280 children from disadvantaged families have benefited from KidStart programme

SINGAPORE - Some 280 children from disadvantaged families have benefited from a government programme to help such children get a leg-up in life, since it started in July.

The $20 million KidStart programme is expected to benefit 1,000 vulnerable children, aged up to six, over three years.

These children include those that come from low-income families. They live in five sites where the scheme is piloted - Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay and Geylang Serai.

The scheme was first announced in Parliament during the Budget speech in March, and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) gave an update on Saturday (Nov 5) about how the scheme works and has progressed so far.

The KidStart scheme has three components: regular home visits, playgroup sessions that teach parental skills, and enhanced support in pre-schools.

* Staff from KK Women's and Children's Hospital or ECDA have gone to homes to visit 50 infants and their parents or primary caregivers. This will be done till the child turns three. The parents receive support in skills and knowledge about child growth, health and nutrition. Regular screening during antenatal and post-natal stages are also conducted.

* Weekly community-based playgroup sessions run by ECDA-trained facilitators have also benefited 33 children aged up to three years and 29 parents so far. Parents pick up parenting skills and learn how to strengthen parent-child bonding. Such sessions, called KidStart groups, are held in centres in the families' neighbourhood.

* Enhanced pre-school support is offered by selected centres run by PAP Community Foundation and NTUC First Campus. "Child enabling executives" from the pre-schools help to monitor the child's attendance, address barriers that hinder the child from attending pre-school, and lookout for the child's developmental needs. About 200 children across the pre-schools are receiving such help.