More financial support for pre-school children from low-income families

The First Step Programme will benefit a total of about 8,500 PCF Sparkletots children in two cohorts.
The First Step Programme will benefit a total of about 8,500 PCF Sparkletots children in two cohorts.PHOTO: PCF SPARKLETOTS

SINGAPORE - Pre-school children from low-income homes will get more educational and healthcare support with a programme that will get $3.38 million in funding from the Temasek Foundation.

Launched by the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Temasek Foundation on Thursday (May 6), the programme aims to provide financial support for lower-income families in order to reduce the barriers to pre-school enrolment and support sustained enrolment.

Under the Temasek Foundation First Step Programme, every eligible child in Infant Care to Nursery 2 from lower-income families enrolled in PCF Sparkletots will receive a top-up in their Child Development Account (CDA) of $200 per year for two years. PCF Sparkletots has more than 40,000 children enrolled in some 360 pre-schools here.

With the Government's dollar-for-dollar matching contributions for the top-ups, each child's CDA will receive a total of up to $800 over two years.

Families with monthly household income of $4,500 and below, or per capita income of $1,125 and below, will be eligible to benefit from the top-up.

PCF will also be conducting virtual briefing sessions with community partners and social service agencies (SSAs) including Awwa, Care Corner, Fei Yue Community Services and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities, to share information on the importance of early childhood education, as well as the various financial support schemes available for lower-income families.

The sessions will help the SSAs encourage more lower-income families to enrol their children in pre-school.

The First Step Programme will benefit a total of about 8,500 PCF Sparkletots children in two cohorts.

This is on top of existing schemes to help defray fees such as government subsidies and the PCF Enhanced Headstart Fund. Under this fund, eligible families pay monthly pre-school fees of no more than about $5 for kindergarten, about $10 for childcare and about $100 for infant care.

Said Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman, who was the guest of honour at the launch event of the programme: "I am heartened by the timely partnership between PCF and Temasek Foundation, which seeks to enhance access to quality pre-school education by helping parents defray pre-school costs. We welcome efforts by PCF and Temasek Foundation to raise awareness on the importance of early childhood education."

Temasek Foundation deputy chairman Richard Magnus said the gap between children who attend pre-school and those who do not may widen further as they move through the education system.

"The programme will help optimise the development of children from lower-income families, as well as provide additional support for families who may experience financial difficulties arising from the pandemic," he said.