Have integrated approach to early childhood help

The Circle of Care project is highly commendable and relevant to the early childhood field ("Circle of Care helps pre-school kids blossom"; March 3).

It is heart-warming to see positive results in its third year of implementation, and to know that it has benefited children at the two pilot pre-schools who are from at-risk, vulnerable and low-income families.

Given its preliminary success, such early intervention efforts should be extended to all children in similar circumstances, to give them a better chance in life.

The local early childhood field operates in a market system, resulting in varying centre programmes and quality.

While there is government regulation to ensure baseline standards, not all children attend pre-school or have access to quality programmes.

Consequently, pre-school children enter primary school from different starting points.

Creating equitable access to integrated care and quality education is pivotal to laying the foundation for children's later trajectory and future outcomes.

An inclusive integrated programme should be accessible to all children.

Such a programme would require a "whole of government" approach, where pre-schools, primary schools, health services and organisations such as museums, libraries and parkscome together and create a common platform to serve children and families.

Currently, there are a lot of initiatives and projects launched by individual agencies.

However, they tend to operate in silos. If these entities can come together to synergise and collaborate with one another, more can be achieved for children and families.

In addition, with pre-schools and primary schools working together, children's transition can also be better supported, ensuring a continuity of learning from the home, pre-school and primary school environments.

This, in turn, promotes children's well-being, learning and development. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

Sandra Wu Pinhui (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2016, with the headline 'Have integrated approach to early childhood help'. Print Edition | Subscribe