Budget 2021 Emerging stronger

Early intervention pilot scheme to help kids with special needs

A programme that combines early intervention and early childhood services is set to be piloted to help children with special needs.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that the Government is looking into trialling the Inclusive Support Programme, which will benefit children who need up to medium levels of early intervention support.

Those under the age of seven with developmental needs can benefit from a differentiated approach to help them learn better, he noted.

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

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 Sun Xueling said she would work with the Education Ministry to provide more support for children with special needs in mainstream schools as well as those in government-funded special education schools.

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

Yesterday, Mr Heng also announced a new Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) for caregivers of those with disabilities. To be formed by the National Council of Social Service and SG Enable, it will co-create solutions to improve support for caregivers.

More details will be announced during the debate on the Ministry of Social and Family Development's budget.

Such 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 an effort to grow the country's economy and tackle complex issues.

These include issues that surfaced from the Emerging Stronger Conversations launched in June last year.

About 17,000 people participated and shared their views at these sessions, with many expressing their wish for an equal and caring society, with more support for vulnerable groups.

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2021, with the headline 'Early intervention pilot scheme to help kids with special needs'. Subscribe