Budget 2021: Early childhood programme that integrates early intervention to be piloted to help kids with special needs

Those under the age of seven with developmental needs can benefit from a differentiated approach to help them learn better. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - An Inclusive Support Programme that will integrate the provision of early intervention and early childhood services will be piloted to help children with special needs, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday (Feb 16).

This will benefit children who need up to medium levels of early intervention support, said Mr Heng, who noted that those under the age of seven with developmental needs can benefit from a differentiated approach to help them learn better.

"Many of these children are already attending pre-schools, and this programme will allow them to be more meaningfully engaged alongside other children. We believe this will benefit all children and help them develop social skills and social inclusion," said Mr Heng.

He pointed out that supporting the needy and vulnerable segments of society is integral to strengthening Singapore's social compact.

Last year, Minister of State for Education and Social and Family Development Sun Xueling said that the Government will actively look for ways to foster "purposeful interaction" between students with and without special education needs to create an inclusive environment.

She also said that she would work with the Ministry of Education to provide more support for children with special needs in mainstream schools and also those in government-funded special education (Sped) schools.

She added that specialised manpower was needed to deliver early intervention programmes and appropriate learning and psychological support.

Mr Heng on Tuesday also announced that a new Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) for caregivers of those with disabilities will also be formed by the National Council of Social Service and SG Enable.

"This (alliance) will build on the good work of our community partners and individuals, and harness their resources and creativity to co-create solutions to improve support for caregivers," he said. More details will be announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli during the debate on his ministry's budget.

The alliances - 15 of which have been formed or announced - are partnerships between industry players and the Government that aim to rapidly prototype new ideas in a bid to grow the country's economy and tackle complex issues.

These include issues that surfaced from the Emerging Stronger Conversations, which was launched in June last year. About 17,000 people participated and shared their views at these sessions, with many expressing their wish for a more equal and caring society, with more support for vulnerable groups.

"We expect more AfAs to be announced in the months ahead," said Mr Heng.

SPH Brightcove Video
On Tuesday, Feb 16, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat delivered his Budget statement. Our panel of experts breaks down what Budget 2021 means to Singaporeans.
This show is jointly hosted by The Straits Times and Money FM 89.3.

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