Bringing up baby properly with help from new centre

Madam Annaletcumi Ravichandran (left) attending an infantcare class at the newly opened one-stop centre, which provides health, social and educational services to needy families with infants and toddlers.
Madam Annaletcumi Ravichandran (left) attending an infantcare class at the newly opened one-stop centre, which provides health, social and educational services to needy families with infants and toddlers.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

When her toddler son consistently weighed less than average as a result of poor appetite and frequent illnesses, housewife Annaletcumi Ravichandran, 26, was at a loss over what to do.

A medical social worker referred her to the Temasek Cares Kids programme in July.

There, she learnt to prepare more nutritious meals for 18-month-old Rahul and herself.

His condition has since improved."I'm relieved that we can now get some guidance about our diet," she said.

Mothers from vulnerable families like hers can look forward to getting more help.

Yesterday, a one-stop centre offering health, social and educational services for infants and toddlers from needy families was opened.

The centre is part of the Temasek Cares Kids 0-3 programme.

The three-year pilot programme, started last year, offers mothers access to support from the early stages of pregnancy till their child is three years old.

Aimed at families with a per capita income of less than $650 a month living in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan and Toa Payoh, the programme is led by the KK Women's and Children's Hospital, AMKFSC Community Services and Temasek Cares, the non-profit philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings .

The 110 families enrolled in the programme can visit the centre on weekdays.

Supported by a team of 23 health professionals and social workers, the centre offers nursing and parenting classes, playgroup sessions and health consultations with paediatricians by appointment.

At the same time, nurses, social workers or community health visitors will pay home visits to advise them on raising infants.

At yesterday's launch, which was attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Professor Chay Oh Moh, the programme director, said: "We have received feedback from the beneficiaries about how the programme has improved their children's development and family relationships over the past year."

The pilot programme hopes to reach out to 600 mothers and children by the end of the three-year period in 2017 .

A total of $8.7 million will be provided by Temasek Cares. If it goes well, the scheme will be extended nationwide.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline 'Bringing up baby properly with help from new centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe