Ms Anthea Ong
Nominated Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development since the shift of early intervention services from MSF Disability Office to Early Childhood Development Agency (a) how many children aged below 7 with developmental needs have been (i) declined for enrolments or (ii) expelled by preschools; and (b) how is the Early Childhood Development Agency supporting families with children with developmental needs secure preschool placements.
1. Today, many young children with developmental needs are enrolled in a preschool. Three-quarters of children aged 5-6 who are enrolled in the Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) are also enrolled in preschools.
2. There is a range of support available within preschools for children with developmental needs. For example, about 550 preschools offer the Learning Support and Development Support programmes, which cater to children with learning and mild developmental needs respectively.
3. However, some preschools may find it challenging to cater to a child with moderate to severe developmental needs. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) receives feedback on a few such cases per year. Where needed, ECDA works with parents and stakeholders such as SG Enable, EIPIC centres and preschools to find a solution that meets the needs of the child. This includes engaging the parents and the preschools to better understand the child’s needs, and arranging for the preschools to work with EIPIC centres to adopt appropriate strategies to support the child. ECDA may also refer the child to suitable preschools which are better placed to support the child’s development.
4. The Government is continuing to enhance support for children with developmental needs in preschools. For example, we introduced the Development Support-Plus (DS-Plus) programme last year to cater to children who have made sufficient progress under EIPIC and are able to transit to receiving intervention in a preschool setting with added support. Under DS-Plus, early intervention professionals from EIPIC centres work with the child in his or her preschool up to twice a week, co-teaching the child alongside the preschool teacher. We have also set up the Inclusive Preschool Workgroup, which will develop recommendations on how to better support children with moderate to severe developmental needs in preschools.