Committee of Supply debate

Single mum welcomes scheme to help disadvantaged children

Ms Lina, who is raising her six-month-old child on her own, welcomed the KidStart scheme, saying "it would be good not to have to go to several agencies for help".
Ms Lina, who is raising her six-month-old child on her own, welcomed the KidStart scheme, saying "it would be good not to have to go to several agencies for help".ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Single and unwed, Ms Lina (not her real name) struggles to bring up her six-month-old daughter on her own.

Every month, the 26-year-old pre-school teacher has to pay $500 in rent to her parents for a room, and $500 to settle debts incurred by the child's father.

She broke off her engagement to him before the girl was born.

Yesterday, the Government announced a new scheme to help children from disadvantaged homes, including those of unwed mothers.

Called KidStart, it will go on trial in the second half of this year in five areas, including Ms Lina's Geylang Serai neighbourhood.

It will help children aged up to six with learning and health support, like basic immunisations.

The scheme will also coordinate existing services across agencies, offer parenting workshops and monitor the children's progress.

Ms Lina welcomed it, saying: "It would be good not to have to go to several agencies for help. I hope the parenting courses will be free."

Life is challenging although it is a notch better since she discovered help schemes in the past months.

Recounting her struggles, she said she could not find a full-time job when she was pregnant. After giving birth, she worked from home.

She also could not enrol her daughter in infant care as the fees were beyond her means.

But friends told her of government help schemes like ComCare. "They had received such help. If I had not told them I was a single mum, it would have been even harder to know of these schemes," she told The Straits Times.

She received aid from Medifund, which helps the needy pay healthcare bills, and receives $940 a month from ComCare. She also pays $310 a month for infant care instead of $1,540, after subsidies.

"I hope my child and I can get our own home. I'd like to rent an HDB home but was told we don't have a family nucleus. But my daughter is my family."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Single mum welcomes scheme to help disadvantaged children'. Print Edition | Subscribe