Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang
MP for Nee Soo GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development in each of the last five years, how many and what percentage of children who are differently abled have not had access to the Development Support and Learning Support programmes.
1. The Development Support (DS) and Learning Support (LS) programme provides support to children with mild development needs within the preschools. The DS-LS programme is currently offered in 550 preschools which enrol about 40% of preschoolers aged 5 – 6, up from about 300 preschools in 2015. About 60% of preschoolers are enrolled in preschools which currently do not offer the DS-LS programme.
2. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) is working closely with preschool operators to make the DS-LS programme available at more preschools. ECDA is working closely with the regional DS-LS providers and preschools to expand provision of DS-LS to more preschools. ECDA also provides funding to preschools which are prepared to be DS-LS providers themselves, to train their Learning Support Educators and procure therapy services. These preschools are also supported with a Place-and-Train programme to facilitate the training of more in-house Learning Support Educators.
3. For children enrolled in preschools that do not provide the DS-LS programme today, there are channels for parents, healthcare professionals or preschools to flag out children with developmental needs for support. If a preschool identifies an enrolled child who may have developmental needs, they can contact the regional DS-LS providers for assistance to screen the child for early intervention support. During regular medical screenings and check-ups, healthcare professionals in the polyclinics, paediatricians and GPs may also detect delays in the child’s development. In such cases, they will refer the child to the Child Development Programme in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) or National University Hospital (NUH) for diagnosis of developmental needs. Depending on the severity of their development needs, children may be referred to the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) or to KKH’s Department of Child Development or NUH’s Child Development Unit for therapy services.