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PUBLISHED

10 May 2023

NTUC First Campus boosts inclusivity with new in-class Development Support Specialist programme for preschool children with developmental needs 

Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Social and Family Development (in the middle), engages 4-year-old Evelyn Lai (far left, first row) in an activity sorting colours, alongside Ms Vishaalini Vasanthanathan, Development Support Specialist, Child Support Services Department, NTUC First Campus (far left, second row), and Oblena Angela Mari Zulueta, English Teacher, My First Skool at 49 Rivervale Crescent (far right, second row).

NTUC First Campus (NFC) has launched a new in-classroom Development Support Specialist (DSS) Programme designed to enhance inclusivity for preschool children with developmental needs.

With more young children being diagnosed with developmental delays, the DSS Programme aims to provide the necessary support and resources to help teachers better integrate children who require medium levels of developmental support into classrooms effectively.

This innovative programme is focused on children from Playgroup to Kindergarten 2 (18 months to 6 years old) requiring medium level of early intervention (EI) support. It includes those currently attending the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC), those on EIPIC waitlist, as well as those who have yet to be formally diagnosed. For the last group, the DSS will also promote increased family involvement and offer guidance on obtaining a diagnosis when needed.

The Programme involves skilled Development Support Specialists (DSS) working closely with teachers during classroom lessons. These professionals offer hands-on help, making sure children get the support they need to succeed in preschool, while also guiding teachers to improve their classroom management.

Teachers with children requiring medium level of EI support will discuss these children’s profiles with the DSS. The DSS will then join the class to support and guide the teacher by demonstrating how to engage the child. Together, they will create a tailored strategy to address each child’s unique learning requirements.

The Programme commenced in January 2023 as a three-year pilot. It currently supports 60 children and 50 educators across eight My First Skool (MFS) centres. MFS is a leading preschool under NFC.

Recognising the importance of equipping educators with the right skills, NFC will also provide structured training for all MFS teachers. This training will focus on managing social-emotional needs and addressing behavioural concerns of children with learning challenges. It aims to empower teachers to create a nurturing and inclusive environment for all students.

Upon completion of the pilot phase, NFC will evaluate the programme’s effectiveness and consider expanding the initiative to more of its preschools.

“NTUC First Campus’s DSS Programme reflects our organisation’s commitment to fostering an inclusive preschool, and is our latest initiative aimed at enabling bright futures for every child. By providing tailored support for children with developmental needs as early as possible, and equipping teachers with the necessary skills, we hope to create a more inclusive learning environment that benefits all children,” said Ms Louisa Chng, NFC’s Chief Child Support Officer.

“I am heartened to see that NTUC First Campus shares our vision to give every child a good start in life, and thus, we see that NTUC First Campus has initiated the Development Support Specialist Programme. Besides supporting children with developmental needs, this programme creates opportunities for typically developing children to build their social skills as well as foster mutual understanding, acceptance of diversity and empathy towards others from a young age. I am confident that this will enable better learning outcomes for all our children. Together, let us make our preschools more inclusive and take the important steps towards making our society kinder, more gracious, and more inclusive,” said Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development. 

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