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Average waiting time for children who are differently abled to be enrolled in the Early Intervention Programme

Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang
MP for Nee Soon GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the current average waiting time for children who are differently abled to be enrolled in the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) upon application; and (b) what are the recommended teacher to child ratios for (i) EIPIC and (ii) preschools who are managing these children.

Answer

1.  The current average waiting time for enrolment in an early intervention (EI) centre for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) is approximately 6 months. The waiting time in part depends on parents’ preferences for specific providers or locations. We are working on expanding the number of EIPIC places over the next few years, which will help bring down the waiting time. We are also rolling out the Development Support Plus programme so that children who have made sufficient progress in EIPIC can transit to receiving EI services in their preschools. This will enable more children requiring EIPIC to be served.

2.  Under EIPIC, the teacher to child ratios can vary based on the needs of each child.  For children with higher needs, support can be delivered in a one-to-one setting while children with higher functioning could be placed in groups averaging 6 to 8 children. Typically, each group is led by an EI teacher, with at least another EI professional (such as a therapist, psychologist or assistant EI teacher) assisting him/her.

3.  Under ECDA’s regulations, preschools, including those that enrol children with developmental needs, are required to adhere to minimum staff-child ratios for the different age groups. These ratios range from 1 infant educarer to 5 infants for infant care, to 1 early childhood teacher to 25 children for a kindergarten 2 class. Preschools may choose to deploy more staff to support classes with children with developmental needs if preferred.

4.  Preschools also receive support from EI professionals. For children under specific programmes like the Learning Support, Development Support or Development Support Plus programmes, EI professionals visit the preschools to conduct intervention sessions for children within the centres. EI centres also assist preschools by sharing with them strategies on how preschool teachers can better support these children in the classroom. We are currently studying ways to better support children with moderate to severe developmental needs within preschools, under the work of the Inclusive Preschool Workgroup.

 

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