NTUC First Campus pre-schoolers and their families receive more social support

Children at the Westgate shopping mall branch of My First Skool, which comes under NTUC First Campus.
Children at the Westgate shopping mall branch of My First Skool, which comes under NTUC First Campus. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO

SINGAPORE - Some 2,000 children from NTUC First Campus are receiving extra support this year, from programmes to improve their literacy and financial assistance, to therapy intervention for those with mild developmental delays and parental support.

More than $5 million will be invested in these initiatives, with funding from the Government and the Bright Horizons Fund, the charity arm of NTUC First Campus, the second largest pre-school operator here.

In comparison, the Bright Horizons Fund dispersed about $300,000 in 2011 to mainly provide financial subsidies to about 560 children.

Mr Chan Tee Seng, chief executive of NTUC First Campus, which currently has 14,000 children across 124 centres, gave these updates on Thursday (Sept 29) at a media briefing before a Children's Day celebration at a My First Skool centre at Chin Swee Road.

Explaining how the pre-school operator has now grouped all its support schemes as part of a Child Support Model, he said: "It's not just about supporting people with school fees but we are also looking at the child's development. We are also looking at leveraging the community to support families."

It now also has a team of 40 professional staff who provide a range of services such as extra coaching for children who need more help or intervention for those with mild learning delays, workshops for parents as well as outreach to families to encourage their children to attend childcare regularly.

NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing said these programmes, which are aimed at meeting the needs of children from low-income families who earn less than $3,500 a month, or those with mild developmental problems, play an important role in ensuring social mobility for Singaporeans "to overcome the inequality in the years to come".

"We have been piloting various good practices over the years, so we have brought it all together," he said, referring to the Child Support Model that seeks to cover not just the educational and developmental needs of children, but the social aspect by reaching out to their families.

NTUC First Campus, for instance, is also involved in Kidstart, a scheme piloted this year by the Early Childhood Development Agency to give a leg-up to young children from disadvantaged families through social support and parent engagement.

Some 220 children in seven My First Skool centres are currently part of the programme, which will be expanded to 13 centres next year (2017).