Nearly 300 vulnerable kids get early leg-up

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan says "a comprehensive ecosystem of support" is needed to help disadvantaged families.
Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan says "a comprehensive ecosystem of support" is needed to help disadvantaged families.

Kids 0-3 scheme helps improve their language and cognitive abilities, study finds

An early intervention scheme that helps young children from the time they are born till age three has reached out to almost 300 kids from vulnerable families and their mothers, helping the kids in their development and equipping the adults with better parenting skills.

The Temasek Foundation Cares' Kids Integrated Development Service 0-3 (Kids 0-3) provides a community health and social care support system for children from disadvantaged families. It also guides mothers during the antenatal stage and beyond.

Set up four years ago, Kids 0-3 is led by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) and AMKFSC Community Services. It receives funding under the Early Childhood Development Agency's KidStart programme.

A study conducted earlier this year on the 283 children helped by the programme found that they showed improved language and cognitive abilities compared with those involved in a 2015 KKH study on families from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds. There was also a higher immunisation rate among the children.

This year's study also found that some 98 per cent of parents showed affection - physical closeness and positive expressions - towards their children, while 96 per cent were responsive to their children's emotions, interests and behaviours.

Scheme still helps kids past age 3

Speaking at Singapore's first Integrated Child Health and Social Congress yesterday, Adjunct Associate Professor Winnie Goh, who is senior consultant of the division of medicine at KKH and programme lead for Kids 0-3, told The Straits Times: "If you are faced with challenging situations and there are people who journey with you to overcome these challenges, you are likely to develop resilience."

"The Kids 0-3 programme will continue to provide opportunities to these families after their children turn three, by leveraging other existing programmes and services in the community," she added.

The three-day congress, which ends tomorrow, brings together professionals from the health, social and early childhood sectors.

It is part of the efforts by Kids 0-3 to create awareness of the importance of cross-sector collaboration in supporting the development of children from vulnerable families.

Minister of State for Social and Family Development Sam Tan said at the congress: "A comprehensive ecosystem of support for the child and family is necessary to address the multiple stressors that face disadvantaged families."

Ms Lim Wei Qi, 30, a senior child resource coordinator with the KidStart programme, said that some parents she has worked with had a communication barrier with their children. "We give parents practical tips on how to communicate with kids, to go down to the kids' level and be involved in their play."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2018, with the headline 'Nearly 300 vulnerable kids get early leg-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe