1. Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Masagos Zulkifli announced new initiatives to support early childhood (EC) educators, preschool operators and children at the Early Childhood Conference today. These initiatives build on the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA)’s continuing efforts to improve the quality of preschools, strengthen the professional development of EC educators and enhance the provision of support and resources to give every child a good start.
Support for the Professional Development of Educators
Launch of the refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood
2. ECDA, in collaboration with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), preschool representatives and stakeholders, has reviewed the Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education that was introduced in 2016. Today, ECDA launched the refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood that spells out the career pathways and competencies required for various job roles in the EC sector. In the refreshed framework, the Infant and Early Years Educator career pathways have been expanded to reflect the potential progression and development pathways available for educators teaching children in the younger age groups (i.e. 2 months to 4 years old). The Leadership career pathway has also been expanded and senior educators can aspire towards new job roles such as the Lead Early Years Educator, Deputy Centre Leader, and Curriculum/Pedagogy Specialist.
3. ECDA also included new career tracks for Learning Support Educators (LSEds) and Early Intervention (EI) educators in the refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood. These additions seek to encourage greater porosity between the career pathways for Early Childhood and Early Intervention educators as part of our ongoing effort to advance inclusion in preschools.
4. In response to stakeholder feedback during the Skills Framework validation sessions, ECDA will standardize the nomenclature in preschools to “Educators” (e.g. Early Year Educators, Preschool Educators) for both “Educarers” (currently referring to those teaching children up to nursery level) and “Teachers” (currently referring to those teaching kindergarten levels) going forward. This reflects the equal importance of all early childhood educators, across the different age groups under their care. ECDA will work with operators to operationalize the changes by 1H2022.
5. In addition to the enhanced career map, the refreshed Skills Framework includes information on emerging trends, in-demand skills, and desired attributes of EC and EI educators. EC and EI educators can refer to the Skills Framework to plan for their skills upgrading and career development. Operators can use the framework to plan for their talent management and training/development strategies. Training providers can also progressively refresh their training programmes to align to the skills and competencies identified in the Skills Framework. The refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood will be available on the SSG website at www.skillsfuture.gov.sg/skills-framework/earlychildhood from 16 Oct 2021.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Roadmap
6. With the launch of the refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood, ECDA will also be developing a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Roadmap, which lays out competencies that educators may wish to prioritise at different stages of their career and the professional development opportunities to develop those skillsets. The CPD Roadmap will also highlight focus areas for the EC sector that educators may wish to have more targeted training in. ECDA will be rolling out the roadmap for different job roles progressively from 2022, starting with 7 EC job roles and 6 focus areas. A similar roadmap would be developed for 9 EI job roles.
7. A Leadership Development Framework (LDF) and training roadmap targeted at future and existing EC leaders will also be developed and more details will be announced in 2022.
Support for Preschool Operators
Driving Digitalisation via the EC Industry Digital Plan (IDP)
8. At the MSF Committee of Supply (COS) Debates in Mar 2021, it was announced that ECDA is developing the early childhood IDP with IMDA, SSG and sector partners to guide preschools on the digital solutions they can adopt, along with recommended skills training, across three stages of growth1. Funding would also be provided to encourage preschools to adopt these solutions.
9. Today, ECDA launched the Early Childhood Digitalisation Grant (ECDG) to support adoption of the IDP by preschools. Over $4 million will be available over the next 3 years, to help preschools defray the cost of adopting pre-approved digital solutions. Operators can now submit their grant applications through the Business Grants Portal (BGP).
10. ECDA and IMDA have pre-approved solutions that will assist preschools in their operations at different stages of digital readiness. These solutions are supported by certified vendors and have been curated to facilitate simple and quick adoption by preschools. Apart from preschool management, operators and educators can look forward to new solutions for e-enrolment and data analytics for centre operations from early November. More pre-approved solutions will be added progressively.
Support for Young Children and Children in Preschools
Supporting Diverse Children in our Classrooms
11. At the MSF COS Debates in Mar 2021, it was announced that ECDA would work towards every preschool appointing one of its staff as an Inclusion Coordinator (ICO), beginning in the second half of 2023. The ICO will partner early childhood educators to identify children with potential developmental needs for early assessment. They will also connect educators and parents with relevant early intervention resources and services. Today, it was announced that preschools can look forward to pre-appointment training for ICOs from end-2021.
12. ECDA will also work closely with preschools to expand the Development Support – Learning Support (DS-LS) programme to more preschools, covering 60% of preschoolers aged 5 to 6 by 2025 and 80% in the long term. This will enable children who require low levels of early intervention support to access such services at their preschools.
Launch of KidSTART CDA (Child Development Account) top-up
13. KidSTART provides upstream support to parents and children aged 0 to 6 from low-income families. KidSTART supports parents with the knowledge and skills to nurture their children’s early development, including their physical and socio-emotional health and well-being, and works with community and corporate partners to support families holistically. The programme has benefitted over 2,000 children since its inception in 2016 and aims to reach 5,000 children by around 2023.
14. In tandem with the scale up of KidSTART by Government, the ‘Growing Together with KidSTART’ initiative was launched in 2019 to raise community support for KidSTART families. The initiative has garnered $4 million in cash donations and in-kind sponsorship items from corporates and individuals. As part of the ‘Growing Together with KidSTART’ initiative, yearly top-ups2 to the Child Development Accounts will be introduced to encourage families towards early enrolment and regular attendance in KidSTART programmes and preschool. A larger top-up amount would be given to families who enroll their children in preschool earlier, between ages 3 to 4.
Celebrating the achievements of ‘Start Small Dream Big’
15. A virtual finale for the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ movement was held in conjunction with the Early Childhood Conference 2021 to celebrate the achievements of over 71,000 participants from 1,050 preschools and 25 partners. Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the preschoolers collectively dedicated 2.1 million hours to community service projects this year, the highest since the movement started. They have also raised some $200,000 for various charitable causes, on top of in-kind donations.
16. With the theme “Stay Connected, Make A Difference” this year, ‘Start Small Dream Big’ encouraged children to maintain social connections with the community and find meaningful ways to reach out and do good amidst COVID-19. Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development said, “COVID-19 has changed the way we champion causes that we care about. However, the need to help those who are vulnerable in our society is more critical than ever. I would like to thank our preschool educators, partners and parents for remaining steadfast to the cause during this challenging period, and continuing to inculcate the ‘Start Small Dream Big’ values in our children.”
1 Stage 1: Getting Ready for the Digital Economy – Adopt and Adapt. This stage calls for operators to adopt digital solutions such as e-enrolment and adapt centre processes for more efficient and digital-enabled work.
Stage 2: Growing in the Digital Economy – Analyse and Automate. This stage calls for preschools to adopt digital solutions such as data analytics that can help them analyse and automate operations and educator training for more data-driven operations and digital-enabled training.
Stage 3: Leaping Ahead – Advance Capabilities. This stage identifies solutions such as smart resource management and virtual training for preschool educators, so that operators can advance capabilities for smart centres and innovative learning.
2 This is on top of the recently announced $200 top-up to the Child Development Accounts (or CDA) for all Singaporean children aged six and below.
Annex A: Refreshed Skills Framework for Early Childhood
Annex B: Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Roadmap
Annex C: Early Childhood Industry Digital Plan
Annex D: Background Information on KidSTART
Annex E: 'START SMALL DREAM BIG' 2021 Finale