Announced by Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in April 2016, KidSTART is a pilot programme by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) for young children from low-income and vulnerable families to enable them to have a good start in life. It brings together the family, community, and pre-school to build a strong ecosystem of support for the child.
KidSTART has been progressively rolled out since July 2016. The three-year pilot is expected to benefit about 1,000 children living in the pilot regions of Kreta Ayer/Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong/Boon Lay and Geylang Serai.
KidSTART is made up of the following key components: KidSTART Home Visitation, KidSTART Groups (Supported Playgroups), KidSTART Enhanced Support to Pre-schools.
One of the key components of KidSTART is the Home Visitation programme. It targets pregnant mothers and parents of infants up to 12 months old, and provides sustained home-based support until the child reaches 3 years old. This home-based programme component complements the community-based KidSTART Groups and centre-based KidSTART Enhanced Support to Pre-schools.
KidSTART Home Visitation is currently available in the Kreta Ayer and Bukit Merah region and is expected to benefit up to 300 children during the three-year pilot phase.
Model and Key Features
Evidence has shown that a sustained home visitation programme delivered to low-income or vulnerable families with infants can lead to positive health and development outcomes for the child, improved parenting skills and family resilience1.
KidSTART Home Visitation provides in-home parental guidance and support services on child growth and development to parents (or main caregivers) and their infants. It also aims to improve maternal and child health, enhance parenting skills and parent-child relationships, and promote optimal developmental outcomes for the child.
KidSTART Home Visitation is based on the Parents as Teachers2 curriculum, an evidence- and research-based home visiting model for early childhood development. There are two key features in this model:
a. Home visits, which are conducted by trained home visitors on a weekly or fortnightly basis. The frequency of these visits depends on the progress of the family and the child’s development, and gradually tapers down to a monthly basis as the child reaches three years old.
- Parents are provided with support in skills and practical knowledge across areas of child growth, health and nutrition. This includes access to learning and development resources and tips on early stimulation activities.
- Regular screening of the child’s development and maternal well-being are conducted to monitor the family’s progress, as well as to detect and treat issues early.
- Home visitors also work closely with other partners such as the Social Service Office (SSO), Family Service Centres (FSCs) and pre-schools to ensure that the holistic needs of the family are met.
- Facilitated placement of the child to pre-schools.
b. Parent group sessions, which provide parents and children the opportunity to participate in activities together with other families.
- Aim to create a strong network of peer support in the community.
- Sessions cover a range of topics such as the importance of self-care, and managing children’s temper tantrums.
Partnership with KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH)
ECDA has partnered KKH to jointly deliver the KidSTART Home Visitation programme. This leverages on the mutual strengths across the health and early childhood domains for a multi-disciplinary approach to KidSTART.
The home visitor may be from KKH or ECDA, depending on the initial touch point. Home visitors are professionals with qualifications and/or relevant experience in sectors such as health, early childhood or social services. The home visitors are supported by a team of multi-disciplinary professionals, such as social workers, paediatricians and nurses.
Status of roll out
As at January 2017, there are 89 infants on KidSTART Home Visitation. ECDA expects to reach out to 150 families by the end of 2017.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Why is KidSTART Home Visitation only rolled out in one pilot region?
As KidSTART is a pilot, ECDA will start small and focus on rolling and testing out Home Visitation in the Kreta Ayer / Bukit Merah Region first.
2. What are the requirements to become a Home Visitor?
Home visitors possess relevant qualifications in a range of fields (such as Early Childhood Care and Education, Social Work or Psychology) with relevant working experience in the health, early childhood, or social sector. They should also have a strong interest in working with parents and infants, as well as community partners.
3. What have been parents’ feedback on KidSTART Home Visitation so far?
The parents reported feeling better supported, and were more confident in their parenting skills. They found the tips and activities introduced during the home visits practical and useful. Mothers also appreciated having a platform to meet other mothers who shared similar concerns during the Group Connect session.
KidSTART is a pilot programme for low-income and vulnerable young children, to enable them to have a good start in life. The pilot will coordinate and strengthen support across agencies, extend new forms of support, and monitor the progress of children from birth onwards.
Research has shown that experiences in a child’s early years can significantly influence his physical, cognitive and social development. On the other hand, a stronger parent-child relationship and holistic early childhood development can bring about positive impact on the child’s lifelong outcomes and narrow the developmental gaps. KidSTART aims to provide upstream support and create a conducive environment for children.
Eligibility Criteria of KidSTART
Families with the following profile are selected for KidSTART pilot:
- Singapore Citizen children aged up to 6 years old
- Low-income household
- Residing in one of the pilot regions
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) works with key partners such as the Social Service Offices, Family Service Centres and hospitals to identify and reach out to families with infants and young children who can benefit from KidSTART. Partners would contact suitable families to inform them about KidSTART, and seek their participation.
KidSTART Programme Components
Since the launch of KidSTART in July 2016, we have supported more than 300 children in the pilot sites at Kreta Ayer/Bukit Merah, Boon Lay/Taman Jurong and Geylang Serai. All KidSTART programme components are set in a child’s familiar setting and designed to cater to the different stages of development. In addition to the KidSTART Home Visitation, the community-based KidSTART Groups and centre-based KidSTART Enhanced Support to Pre-schools are also being piloted:
a. KidSTART Groups (Supported Playgroups)
What is it? These are weekly community-based playgroup sessions for parents or main caregivers and their toddlers, aged 1 to 3 years old at the point of entry into KidSTART Groups. These sessions are based on the Supported Playgroups concept3, and seek to build up parental skills in child development and parent-child bonding through an evidence-based curricula of structured and purposeful play. Parents are provided with educational resources to reinforce their learning at home. KidSTART Group facilitators conduct home visits for families who need additional support. Children requiring pre-school placement are supported to find an appropriate pre-school programme.
b. KidSTART Enhanced Support to Pre-schools
What is it? This is a new model of support piloted in selected Anchor Operator pre-schools operated by PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and NTUC First Campus. Selected centres are provided with additional resources to improve engagement with and support for parents, and to improve the child’s school readiness. This may include addressing barriers related to poor pre-school attendance and referrals to other support programmes to ensure their children’s developmental needs are addressed. Eligible children who are currently enrolled in these pre-schools will be included in this component.
1Examples of overseas home visitation programmes include the Nurse-Family Partnership in the USA and the UK and the Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home Visiting Programme in Australia.
2Parents as Teachers is an international non-profit organization that promotes optimal early development, learning and health of young children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers.
3Unlike community playgroups, supported playgroups are playgroups supported by facilitators who are usually trained in early childhood development and with the skills to engage and support families/ parents. The facilitators help parents learn about child development and reduce social isolation.