2 October 2017
Ms Rahayu Mahzam
MP for Jurong GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) in the last five years, what is the number of children referred to the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC); (b) what is the current average waiting time for the child to be enrolled in EIPIC centres upon application; and (c) whether there are initiatives in place to enhance the curriculum for EIPIC and building the capabilities of the educators who deliver the programme.
1. The Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) provides developmental and therapy services for infants and young children at risk of moderate to severe developmental delays. Early intervention maximises their developmental potential and minimises the risk of secondary disabilities developing.
2. There are currently 21 EIPIC centres run by 10 Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) located across Singapore. From 2012 to 2016, a total of about 6,500 children were referred to EIPIC centres, or approximately 1,300 children annually.
3. The average waiting time for enrolment in an EIPIC centre today is approximately 5 months, a reduction from the 6 month waiting time in 2016. By 2018, there will be 500 more EIPIC places, bringing the total to 3,200 places. This should bring down the waiting time further.
4. Parents may also consider enrolling their children in selected private early intervention centres under the Pilot for Private Intervention Providers (PPIP) programme. This serves as an alternative to VWO EIPIC centres. Children enrolled in these centres are similarly subsidised for the early intervention programme.
5. Currently, children with mild developmental needs are supported through the Development Support (DS) programmes in selected preschools. MSF is studying how DS can be enhanced to support children with moderate developmental needs within the preschool setting. This will facilitate timely support and intervention for children with mild to moderate developmental needs in their natural setting.
6. All EIPIC teachers must hold an Advanced Diploma in Early Childhood Intervention (Special Needs) (ADESN).
7. MSF is currently working with the National Council of Social Service and SkillsFuture Singapore to develop the Skills Framework for Social Service (SF-SS), which will be ready in 2018. The framework will include a skills map that articulates the skills and competencies required to enter the profession and progress as EIPIC teachers, as well as professional development programmes that EIPIC teachers can take on for skills upgrading and mastery. This will better equip both existing EIPIC teachers and potential entrants to identify relevant training opportunities, and plan their professional development pathways.
8. MSF has also appointed consultants from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital and National University Hospital to help EIPIC centres build capabilities and enhance early intervention standards.