Mr Christopher de Souza
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development what are the care options for family caregivers of special needs children to get respite care and whether there are plans to expand these options.
Caregivers play a critical role in caring for children with special needs. To care for their children well, we recognise that caregivers themselves need respite care from time to time.
2. At present, there are preschools and early intervention (EI) centres which enrol and provide support for children under the age of 7 with developmental needs. There are also Special Student Care Centres (SSCC) which provide before-and-after school care service for children aged 7 to 18 years, and MSF is working closely with the Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to build more of these SSCCs. These services can provide some respite for caregivers during those hours that the children are in the schools/centres. In addition, Child Disability Homes (CDH) provide both long-term and short-term residential care services to children aged 7 – 18 with special needs.
3. SG Enable (SGE) has also brought together 24 organisations, comprising SSAs and hospitals, to form a caregiver support coalition. Members of the coalition share knowledge and learn from one another, identify current challenges, and find common ground to collaborate.
4. Through SGE’s Enabling Guide website, caregivers can also find informal support groups. The Caregivers Pod (Facility) at Enabling Village serves as a meeting place for support group activities, providing them with a space for rest and respite, caregiver training, and engagement with SSAs and community partners.
5. To better equip caregivers to support fellow caregivers, SGE has worked with the community and SSAs to organise Peer to Peer (P2P) Mentor training. This allows caregivers to be supported by other more experienced caregiver mentors.
6. EI centres also provide caregiver engagement and training under the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC), so that they are equipped with the skills and knowledge to support their children at home.