19 February 2018
Dr Tan Wu Meng
MP for Jurong GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what measures are ongoing to enhance public awareness of special needs children and the needs of the parents and caregivers of special needs children; and (b) how can the Ministry encourage employers and the broader community to facilitate better workplace support such as flexible working arrangements for parents of children with special needs.
There are several public education efforts underway to create greater awareness of the aspirations and needs of persons with disabilities, including special needs children and their caregivers.
2 One such effort is NCSS's 'See the True Me' campaign, a five-year public education initiative that started in 2016 to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Singapore. The campaign aims to create greater awareness and improve understanding of persons with disabilities, including children with special needs. Over the last two years, NCSS has also held campaigns promoting inclusiveness across various platforms which reached over 3 million people in Singapore and engaged about 95,000 members of the public.
3 Building an inclusive society and raising the public's awareness and understanding of persons with disabilities and their caregivers is a continuous work in progress. This is why the 3rd Enabling Masterplan includes efforts that start with the young, so that we can nurture future generations of citizens who care for others. These efforts would need to extend to our built environment as well. For example, the building of inclusive playgrounds at our public parks has enabled children with special needs to play with other children and also serve as a platform to enhance awareness of children with disabilities.
4 MSF works closely with other government agencies such as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the tripartite partners to encourage employers and the broad community to support parents in the workplace. When employers and co-workers are supportive and understanding of parents' caregiving needs, this not only makes it easier for these parents to care for their children, including those with special needs, but also benefits employers by helping them attract and retain talent. Family-friendly practices can bring great benefit including raising staff morale, productivity and loyalty.
5 Employers can tap on various resources available to implement flexible work arrangements (FWAs). The Work-Life Grant provides employers with funding support to sustain FWAs and defray the costs of implementing these measures at the workplace. In addition, the tripartite partners have also jointly developed a Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements to help job-seekers and employees identify progressive employers with strong support for FWAs.
6 It is said that it takes a whole village to raise a child. In the same vein, we need the support and partnership of the people, private and public sectors to build a more inclusive society.