MSF-Funded Early Intervention Services
Helping children with special needs early improves long-term outcomes for them and their families.
The Early Intervention Programme for Infant and Children (EIPIC) provides learning and therapy services for 0 to 6 year olds at risk of developing moderate to severe disabilities. EIPIC currently serves 2200 children at 17 VWO-run centres. Subsidies for EIPIC were increased in October 2014 (please refer to here for details).
In addition to EIPIC, the Development Support Programme (DSP) was started in 20121 to provide learning support and therapy for children with mild developmental delays2 in preschools. To date, the programme has helped 2000 children in 300 preschools.
Greater awareness and earlier diagnosis has led to more parents seeking services, including for milder cases. To meet this need, MSF is reviewing the continuum of early intervention services and system to better meet the needs of different groups of children. Not all children require the level of intervention provided by EIPIC. We also have to take into account the manpower constraints, in particular the shortage of early intervention professionals.
Building a Better Early Intervention System
Over the next few years, MSF will work with our VWO partners to meet the needs of children with special needs in a more targeted, timely and effective manner. We will:
- Develop a continuum of services for the different needs of children, including the flexibility to vary intervention as needed over time. MSF will explore putting in place more options besides EIPIC and DSP.
- Develop common evaluation tools to assess a child’s needs and provide him/her the appropriate intervention service, as well as review his/ her progress and adjust intervention accordingly.
- Smoothen flow through the system for the child and family, from diagnosis to enrolment, service delivery, assessment and transition to the next stage.
- Increase involvement of family and preschool teachers in early intervention, so that intervention can continue at home and in the preschool for more lasting gains. Training and support will be made available to families and preschool teachers.
- Improve hiring and retention of therapists, EIPIC teachers, and Learning Support Educators (LSeds). LSEds3 provide intervention for children with mild developmental needs, thus freeing up therapists and EIPIC teachers to focus on those with more moderate to severe needs.
As we evolve our early intervention landscape along these lines, we will seek feedback from our stakeholders in the public, private and people sectors. We will also consult and work with our VWO partners, early intervention experts, parents and caregivers. We will share more detailed plans later in the year.
1 Piloted in 2012 and launched in 2013.
2 Such as learning difficulties, speech and language delays, and behavioural concerns.
3 LSEds are early childhood teachers with additional training to screen and provide learning and in-class support to children in the DSP.