The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced today the rollout of the Development Support Programme (DSP) in pre-schools to provide children with mild developmental delays learning support and therapy intervention.
Under the programme first piloted in May 2012, a group of Learning Support Educators (LSEds) was trained and deployed to work closely with parents and teachers to support the children. Therapy teams from voluntary welfare organisations1 played a complementary role by providing appropriate therapy intervention for children who require greater support. Over a year, over 300 children from about 90 pre-schools received support under the programme. See Annex on description of the Development Support Programme.
The effectiveness of the pilot programme was independently evaluated by a team of specialists from the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Based on pre and post intervention results on a standardised screening tool, progress made on the children’s Individual Education Plans (IEPs)2 and feedback from early childhood educators and parents, children who had received support through the DSP showed significant improvement.
(i) Children who had completed their intervention packages showed improvements in age-equivalence scores under the Brigance Screen – which assesses developmental progress in the motor, language and academic skills domains.
(ii) 47% of the children who had completed their intervention packages fully attained their IEP goals, while half attained 80% of the goals.
(iii) 90% of parents, pre-school teachers and pre-school centre supervisors gave positive feedback on the programme.
Based on the encouraging results of the pilot, MSF will roll out the programme to cover more pre-schools in different geographical areas. Refinements and improvements to the programme will also be made. MSF estimates that 2,000 children will benefit from the programme each year when the rollout is completed. The annual investment in the programme will rise to about $4 million.
At an event to acknowledge the contributions of the pre-schools, VWOs, LSEds and therapists who participated in the pilot, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Chan Chun Sing said, “Through early intervention, we hope to help children with mild developmental delays overcome their challenges earlier. This is an important focus area under the Enabling Masterplan. The encouraging result from the pilot gives us the confidence to roll out the Development Support Programme to support more children in more pre-schools and regions, even as we continue to make improvements.”
Mr Chan also acknowledged the role played by the LSEds. He said “The Learning Support Educators played a very important role in supporting the children in developmental areas in behaviour, language, literacy, social and motor skills.”
1 Asian Women’s Welfare Association, Society for the Physically Disabled and Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities.
2 Each child enrolled in DSP has an Individualised Education Plan (IEP) articulating specific support goals.
Fact Sheet – Development Support Programme
The Development Support Programme (DSP) aims to provide early intervention to children who have been diagnosed by a medical doctor to have mild developmental conditions such as learning difficulties, speech and language delays and behavioural problems. The objective is to help these children overcome their mild developmental conditions and make a smoother transition to mainstream primary schooling.
Through timely intervention delivered via learning support packages, Learning Support Educators work with pre-school teachers, family members and therapy teams where necessary, to provide the children with support to address their mild developmental needs. Children who require specialised intervention may be referred for therapy.
Learning Support Educators are trained pre-school staff, and they provide appropriate development and learning support to the children in one-to-one or small group settings within the pre-school. They continue to provide classroom support for these children after the completion of the intervention packages.
The fees for the programme are determined by the type of intervention recommended for the child. MSF subsidies are available, with higher levels of support provided to lower income families.