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PUBLISHED

14 October 2022

NTUC First Campus’ Child Support Model successfully levels the playing field for children ahead of primary school

Guest of Honour NTUC Secretary-General Mr Ng Chee Meng (centre) interacts with Kindergarten 1 children at My First Skool at 505 Yung An Road.

A three-year research study by preschool operator NTUC First Campus (NFC) and the National Institute of Education (NIE) on NFC’s flagship Child Support Model has proven the Model to be effective in uplifting the lives of children and families who require additional support. The children who participated in the study are also academically, socially and emotionally ready for primary school.

In 2016, NFC developed its Child Support Model to offer an integrated approach in addressing the diverse needs of children and families through social, learning and financial assistance programmes. Every year, over 5,000 children from low-income backgrounds from My First Skool (MFS) preschools and their families receive help under the Model. To date, 30,000 children and their families from 146 MFS preschools have benefited from the Model. 

In 2018, NFC launched a research study with NIE to understand the effects of the Child Support Model on our children and families from low-income backgrounds. The study tracked the learning and well-being of 58 children from low-income families from 10 MFS centres, from the time they entered at Kindergarten 1 to Primary 1. The children’s parents, teachers, principals and Child Support Professionals were also active participants in the study. The study evaluated the before and after outcomes of how the situation of these children and their families have changed through the assistance and support services they received under the Model.

The study, which concluded in 2021, found that the Child Support Model has helped children from low-income families narrow the gap and kept pace with their peers in language and cognitive development. These children experienced higher teacher-child ratio during Child Support programmes, and received targeted support according to their needs. The children made progress in language and cognitive development, and showed readiness for primary school. 

In addition, the well-being of children and their families was supported by NFC’s Child Enabling Executives (CEE). The CEEs readily provided assistance (e.g financial support, well-being programmes and parenting workshops), and bridged families to relevant resources in the community. The CEEs also empowered families to be more confident and competent in improving their situations in life, which in turn created a positive impact on the well-being and learning of their children. 

NFC’s Child Support Model is effective during disruptions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, NFC further strengthened its support for children and families from low income backgrounds. As a result, the study found that the children maintained their language and cognitive development, as well as well-being and involvement levels, despite disruptions during the pandemic. 

“NFC is committed to boost social mobility of children and families through access to quality preschool education. We regularly review and broaden the support areas of our Child Support Model to ensure that our families receive timely support when they need it. We provided care packs to our families during the COVID-19 pandemic, and held mental well-being workshops for caregivers of our children this year,” said Ms Louisa Chng, Chief Child Support Officer at NFC’s Child Support Services department.

NFC has a team of 90 multi-disciplinary Child Support Professionals, which includes CEEs, CCFs, in-house Therapists, Learning Support Educators and Early Interventionists, who ensure that the children and families who need additional support are able to receive help through the programmes under our Child Support Model.

6-year-old Kevier Loe, who is in Kindergarten 2 at MFS at Blk 333 Kang Ching Road, is one of the beneficiaries of NFC’s Child Support Model. His parents are both hawkers at a nearby hawker centre, and the entire family, including an older brother who graduated from the same preschool, has been receiving support from various child support programmes since 2018. 

While Kevier’s parents understand the importance of regular attendance, they chose to keep him at home during the COVID-19 pandemic early this year. 

As Kevier was weaker in Literacy and required additional support, he received Focused Language Assistance in Reading Programme (FLAiR) support and Occupational Therapy support to assist him in his learning. When his parents learnt that the FLAiR lessons had started, they sent him to school more regularly, and ensured he attended therapy sessions in school. Kevier also received in-class support from the Classroom Co-Facilitator who helped improve his learning. 

In addition to the learning and development support, Kevier also received support in other areas, such as receiving ‘You Are Special!’ birthday cakes on his birthday every year, and a $400 top-up to his CDA account. Our CEE also regularly checks in with the family and provides timely support for the family as and when needed. 

“NTUC First Campus’ Child Support Model has improved the learning outcomes of children from low-income families. Through the Model’s comprehensive approach, I am heartened to know that it has uplifted the lives of not only these children, but their working parents and caregivers as well. With the peace of mind knowing that their children are well taken care of, they have the confidence and space to improve their family circumstances, through securing better jobs with better wages and prospects,” said Mr Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General, NTUC. Mr Ng is the Guest of Honour at the media event.

“Enabling every child and their family to have bright futures is at the heart of what we do. Through our Child Support Model, we hope to level the playing field for the children and families with less resources, and empower the children to achieve their best potential in life,” said Ms Chan Su Yee, Chief Executive Officer, NFC.

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