After-hours care scheme offers respite for time-strapped parents

President Halimah Yacob interacting with children enrolled in the CareNights@Morning Star programme at Morning Star Community Services' Bedok North Centre yesterday. Under the programme, children get homework supervision and take part in various acti
President Halimah Yacob interacting with children enrolled in the CareNights@Morning Star programme at Morning Star Community Services' Bedok North Centre yesterday. Under the programme, children get homework supervision and take part in various activities such as writing journals. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Single mother Lydia Indranee, 34, has to juggle taking care of her energetic youngsters, aged seven to 11, with a full-time job.

This presents a challenge for the human resource manager, who often has to work overtime as well.

But thanks to the CareNights@Morning Star programme offered by Morning Star Community Services, she and other parents in time-strapped situations can get some respite.

Started in November 2016, it is a free after-hours programme for children of parents who face pressing needs such as overtime work or night classes, have to attend to family crises, are from low-income households, or are single parents such as Ms Indranee.

The programme is offered at three of Morning Star Community Services' six centres - Bedok North, Sengkang and Primavera, which is in Bedok North.

Yesterday, the Bedok North branch received a visit from President Halimah Yacob, who was greeted with a dance performed by the children at the centre.

President Halimah also interacted with parents and participated in a birthday celebration - such events are held once every two months for all children whose birthdays fall within that period.

CareNights runs from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays, during which children aged six to 14 get homework supervision and take part in various activities such as writing journals. Dinner is also provided.

Parents can enrol their children for up to six months while they sort out their short-term challenges. Sometimes they are recommended to the programme by social service organisations.

President Halimah said in a post on Facebook that she enjoyed a lively evening with the children.

"Glad to know that parents with lower-income background are receiving respite care support through the centre's programme. Such support is vital in maintaining a cohesive family relationship," she wrote.

Morning Star Community Services provides upstream, preventive and early-intervention programmes for children from problem backgrounds. It also offers family life education workshops and counselling services.

For Ms Indranee, whose three children have been enrolled in the programme since mid-2018, she has peace of mind knowing they are engaged in meaningful activities such as learning how to do household chores.

"Every day, they are very eager to attend (the programme)," she said. "They love it."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'After-hours care scheme offers respite for time-strapped parents'. Print Edition | Subscribe