1 Good morning. I am happy to join Fei Yue today at the opening ceremony of their Upper Thomson Centre for the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children, or EIPIC for short.
2 Fei Yue is a valuable partner of MSF and ECDA. We are grateful for their contribution to our country’s vision to give Every Child a Good Start in life. As one of the ten Social Service Agencies offering the EIPIC programme, Fei Yue provides timely and high-quality intervention to children with developmental needs.
- Fei Yue has been offering EIPIC services since 2007, when they opened their first EIPIC Centre in Jurong East.
- Today, they operate 4 EIPIC Centres in Jurong East, Wellington Circle, Bukit Batok, and this centre, at Upper Thomson, providing Early Intervention (EI) services for more than 600 children yearly.
More capacity for Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children
3 I think many parents of young children with developmental needs, like many of you here today, would agree that we all want the best for our children. I understand why parents are anxious to receive timely Early Intervention services.
4 Earlier this year in March during MSF’s Committee of Supply debate, we announced measures to support families and partner them to achieve stability, self-reliance, and social mobility. One key effort is to support parents in their children’s development. This is part of our plan to build A Singapore Made for Families.
5 We also emphasised this in the recently unveiled Forward SG report, which speaks of Government’s plans to continue supporting families across life stages of their journey, including doing more to alleviate their financial burden by enhancing the affordability of early intervention, education, and care services for families with children with developmental needs.
6 I’m pleased to share that we are making good progress. We have added more than 1,000 EIPIC places this year and are on track to meet our target of 1,400 places. This includes:
- 290 places added through 2 new EIPIC Centres in Fernvale Woods and Bukit Batok. Both have started operating this year. The Bukit Batok Centre is also run by Fei Yue.
- Separately, under the ‘EIPIC-P’ programme, there are a further 800 places, in centres run by private operators.
7 In all, we now have a total of 52 Government-funded EI centres across Singapore, operated by both Social Service Agencies and private operators.
8 To ensure that EI services are accessible for families, EIPIC centres such as Fei Yue have gone the extra mile to provide transport services to their students. For example, at Fei Yue Upper Thomson, 65% of students take the school bus arranged by Fei Yue and a transport company. This allows children from neighbouring estates and beyond to access services at Fei Yue Upper Thomson.
- While I understand that families may prefer to look nearby for EI centres, I urge parents to prioritise their children’s timely intervention and to be open to alternative centres and timeslots.
9 We hope that with these efforts, there will be sufficient government-funded places to serve 80% of children requiring EIPIC support by 2027.
Early Intervention - A meaningful profession with growth opportunities
10 Of course, the existing and new EIPIC centres would not be possible if not for the hard work of EI teachers, therapists, and psychologists.
- I am always heartened to visit EIPIC centres and meet our EI professionals on the ground, many of whom chose this career because they are passionate about helping children with developmental needs.
- EI educators such as Ms Wong Jia Min, one of Fei Yue’s Lead EI Teachers and a recipient of ECDA’s Outstanding Early Intervention Professional Award in 2021, exemplify what it means to go the extra mile for the children. Jia Min believes that supporting children requires understanding and empowering their families too. She also adopts a trans-disciplinary approach, working with other professionals such as therapists, psychologists, and the social workers, to ensure that her students’ needs are holistically supported. Thank you so much, Jia Min, for doing all that you do.
- For example, Jia Min worked closely with the family of a girl exhibiting challenging social behaviour. As both her parents were deaf, Jia Min collaborated with social workers and a sign language interpreter to conduct home visits and communicate regularly with her parents. She then created personalised goals and intervention plans for the child’s social-emotional growth. Jia Min even created visual schedules and activity boxes for the child to use at home, to encourage the child to occupy her time meaningfully with hobbies instead of screen time.
- Jia Min’s outstanding work is enabled not only by her care and compassion, but also by her drive to continually learn new knowledge and skills, which allow her to provide high-quality intervention for her students.
11 Let me briefly share on what the Government will continue to do to support early intervention professionals and educators to they are prepared to support and meet the evolving needs of the sector.
- We have refreshed the Early Childhood (EC) Skills Framework to include Learning Support and Early Intervention educators. The expanded EC Continuing Professional Development Roadmap also allows EI educators to plan their career development and chart out their training pathways.
12 I encourage Singaporeans with a heart for working with children to consider joining the EI workforce. You can make a meaningful difference in the lives of young children with developmental needs.
- To those already in service, thank you for playing an integral role in nurturing and uplifting the children under your care!
- There is so much our children can do – many of them have unique qualities and strengths. It is up to each and every one of us tas an educator or parent to discover those strengths, and allow them to realise their full potential.
13 I want to congratulate all the children graduating today. Continue to shine in your own unique ways in your educational journey. To the proud parents here, I celebrate your children’s success with you today, as we all work together to help our children fulfil their potential.