NEW AND ENHANCED INITIATIVES TO BETTER SUPPORT PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF LIFE
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will roll out new initiatives for persons with disabilities in response to the recommendations put forth in the Third Enabling Masterplan. These initiatives aim to strengthen the eco-system of support for persons with disabilities and their families, so as to improve their quality of life.
Existing initiatives will also be enhanced to provide more holistic help and a smoother transition for persons with disabilities at different stages of their lives.
Improving the Quality of Life of Persons with Disabilities
Early Detection & Intervention
Early detection of developmental delays in children coupled with appropriate intervention is crucial to help children develop to their fullest potential. Over the next few years, MSF will work with the Ministry of Health to form a network of touch points across the health and preschool sectors. This would include doctors at the hospitals, polyclinics and family medicine practitioners in developmental screening, and pre-school teachers in early detection of children with developmental needs, so that they can be supported through timely intervention.
MSF will build up a pool of 200 Learning Support Educators over the next five years to provide targeted intervention and support for children with developmental needs in preschools. The Ministry will also study the feasibility of an Inclusive Preschool model that enables children with special needs to attend pre-school with other children.
Transition from School to Work
More students from Special Education schools will be able to benefit from the School-to-Work Transition Programme for work-capable students. The programme, which was piloted in 2014, has received positive feedback from employers, parents and participants. MSF, together with the Ministry of Education and SG Enable, will extend the programme from this year to more students, as well as those with higher support needs. Through work trials, counselling, motivation and soft skills training, students will be better equipped for potential employment opportunities. The programme will be expanded from supporting some 30 work-capable students last year, to supporting 60 work-capable students a year by 2019.
Caregivers, an important pillar of support for persons with disabilities, is a key area of focus under the Third Enabling Masterplan. The National Council of Social Service (NCSS) will work together with Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs) to establish a network of support for caregivers. This includes the setting up of a Disability Caregiver Support Centre in 2018 to provide information, planned respite, training, as well as links to peer groups support and other relevant agencies for further assistance based on caregivers’ needs. The NCSS will also work with VWOs in the sector to undertake research and develop evidence-based practices to better support caregivers. About 2,000 caregivers are expected to benefit from this network of support over the next 5 years.
A major concern for caregivers is how their children with disabilities will be cared for when they are no longer around. The Special Needs Trust Company will step up its outreach and engagement efforts to increase caregivers’ awareness on planning their finances and making future care arrangements for persons with disabilities.
Building an Inclusive Society
The community is a critical partner to the Government in improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities and caregivers. MSF will leverage on technology to build up capabilities of our community partners as part of the Social Service Information Communication Technology Master Plan. This includes automating work processes such as case management and monitoring client outcomes in the programmes. VWOs can look forward to having a more holistic view of their clients and timely delivery of services for their clients with the help of technology.
In addition, to promote social interaction and inclusion, MSF will work closely with community groups and the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth for persons with disabilities to have greater access to cultural and social activities, as well as a variety of disability sports programmes. Persons with disabilities will also be able to participate more fully in the arts in future as part of the national effort to bring free arts performances, installations and workshops closer to home in the heartlands.
About the Third Enabling Masterplan
The Third Enabling Masterplan builds on the progress made under past Enabling Masterplans and guides the initiatives supporting persons with disabilities for the period 2017-2021. It aims to create a caring and inclusive society where persons with disabilities are empowered to achieve their fullest potential and participate fully as integral and contributing members of society.
The Third Enabling Masterplan was put together by the 22-member Steering Committee comprising representatives from the people, private and public sector, including persons with disabilities and caregivers. More than 400 persons with disabilities, caregivers, employers, service providers, government agencies and members of the public were consulted in drafting the recommendations in the report.
1. What is the next step for the Third Enabling Masterplan in the coming months?
MSF has studied the recommendations in the Third Enabling Masterplan and is working out the implementation plans over the next few years. MSF and our partner government agencies, VWOs and other stakeholders will be working through the initiatives announced to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities and caregivers.
2. How will the network of touch points across health and preschool sector help in early detection?
A good early detection system is able to flag children with developmental concerns from the many touch points that are frequented by children be it in the health or the early childhood sector. These touch points can help to link the child and family for further assessment followed by timely intervention as required
MSF will work with MOH to enhance the training of health personnel such as doctors at the hospitals, polyclinics and family medicine practitioners in developmental screenings; and raise awareness among pre-school teachers to enable early detection. Such initiatives will help children showing signs of developmental delays to receive support and intervention in a timely manner.
3. Can you elaborate more about the Inclusive Preschool model? How will children benefit from such a preschool setting?
Inclusive preschools apply differentiated pedagogical strategies to cater to all children, including those with special needs. Such inclusive model will also enable interaction between children with special needs and their typical developing peers. This will require support from trained Learning Support Educators and Early Intervention teachers, to provide targeted intervention for children with mild to moderate developmental needs. They will also guide teachers in integrating all children through learning, play and other classroom activities. Children with special needs growing up in such an inclusive setting will develop age-appropriate social and communication skills, motor and cognitive skills. On the other hand, children who grow up alongside their peers with special needs will learn to understand and accept differences since young.
4. How will Special Education graduands with higher support needs benefit from the special programmes to prepare for employment?
MSF, MOE and SG Enable piloted the School-to-Work Transition Programme with five Special Education (SPED) schools in 2014. This programme aims to support SPED students who are assessed to be work-capable to transition from school to employment.
Under the Third Enabling Masterplan, this programme will be extended to more SPED graduands including those with higher support needs. These graduands may require additional support to seek employment. The programme will provide needed support through work trials, counselling, motivation and soft skills training before job matching to prepare them for employment.
5. What support and services will the Disability Caregiver Support Centre provide? How will they help caregivers?
The NCSS will work with VWOs to pilot a network of support for caregivers through various services and programmes especially for caregivers who are currently not served by any services and caregivers of newly-diagnosed persons with disabilities. As part of this network of support, the Disability Caregiver Support Centre will provide information, advice and resources, planned respite care, training for caregivers. Caregivers will also be linked up with VWOs in the sector for needed services including peer group support.
6. How will the SNTC’s outreach and engagement efforts differ?
SNTC will step up its outreach and engagement efforts to assist caregivers and also provide more assistance to caregivers on future care planning and trust services. SNTC will increase awareness of the importance of care planning among parents and caregivers though collaboration with VWO service providers including SPED schools and Day Activity Centres to engage parents/caregivers of their clients on financial education and future care planning.
7. What is the progress and when will community partners in the disability sector be able to benefit from the SSICT?
MSF has been gathering feedback from users and stakeholders to identify areas for improvement. As next phase of the ICT masterplan, the community partners in the disability sector will be equipped with technology to enable better service delivery progressively from end of 2018. This includes putting in place an IT case-management system that provides more complete information on cases, and facilitates case referrals.