KidSTART is a pilot programme for low-income and vulnerable young children, to enable them to have a good start in life. The pilot will provide new forms of support for child development, coordinate and strengthen holistic support for families where needed, and monitors the developmental progress of children from birth onwards. 

Research has shown that experiences in a child’s early years can significantly influence his physical, cognitive and social development, and these have an impact on his or her lifelong outcomes. Parents under KidSTART will be supported so that their children can benefit from warm and nurturing relationships, age-appropriate and holistic child development, and a safe and secure home environment to grow up in.

Building an Ecosystem of Support around the Child

KidSTART aims to build an ‘ecosystem of support’ around the child. Multi-disciplinary professionals and the community will work collaboratively together, and with the parents, to respond effectively to the changing needs of the child and his family, and to support the child in achieving age-appropriate development in his immediate settings. KidSTART has been rolled out since July 2016, and about 1,000 children living in the pilot sites – Kreta Ayer, Bukit Merah, Taman Jurong, Boon Lay and Geylang Serai – are expected to benefit from the pilot programme. As of May 2018, over 800 children are receiving KidSTART support.

Eligibility Criteria of KidSTART

The eligibility criteria of KidSTART are:

  •    Singapore Citizen children aged up to 6 years old

  •    Low-income household 

  •    Residing in one of the pilot regions 

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) works with key partners such as the Social Service Offices, Family Service Centres and hospitals to identify and reach out to pregnant mothers and families with infants and young children who can benefit from KidSTART. Partners would contact suitable families to inform them about KidSTART, and seek their participation.

KidSTART Programme Components

1. KidSTART Home Visitation

What is it? This consists of regular home visits to parents (or main caregivers) and their infants, until the child is three years old. Parents will receive support in skills and practical knowledge across areas of child growth, health and nutrition. Regular screening of the child’s development and maternal well-being across the antenatal and postnatal stages will also be conducted to detect and treat issues early. Group-based activities called ‘Group Connect’ are also organized for parents to provide peer support. Depending on the family’s needs, the child will also be enrolled into an appropriate preschool programme.     

ECDA has partnered KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) to jointly deliver the Home Visitation Programme. This leverages the mutual strengths across the health and early childhood domains for a multi-disciplinary approach to KidSTART.

Who conducts these visits? Depending on the point of intake, these visits will be undertaken either by home visitors from KK Hospital or ECDA. Home visitors are professionals with qualifications and/or relevant experience in sectors such as health, early childhood or social services. They are supported by multi-disciplinary professionals, such as paediatricians and nurses, to ensure that the home visitors are able to address the needs of parents and children.

2. KidSTART Groups (Supported Playgroups)

What is it? These are weekly community-based playgroup sessions, for parents or main caregivers and their toddlers, aged 1 to 3 years old. These sessions are based on the Supported Playgroups concept, and seeks to build up parental skills in child development and parent-child bonding through evidence-based curricula of structured and purposeful play. Parents are provided with educational resources to reinforce their learning at home. KidSTART Group facilitators may conduct home visits for families who need additional support. Children requiring pre-school placement are supported, to find an appropriate preschool programme.  

Who conducts these sessions? The sessions are delivered by ECDA-trained facilitators who have past experience working with young children and families. ECDA will work closely with community partners to set up KidSTART Groups in pilot sites.

3. KidSTART Enhanced Support to Preschools 

What is it? This is a new model of support piloted in selected Anchor Operator pre-schools operated by PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and NTUC First Campus. Selected centres are provided with additional resources to improve engagement with and support for parents, and to improve the child’s school readiness. This may include addressing barriers related to poor preschool attendance and referrals to other support programmes to ensure their developmental needs are addressed. Eligible children who are currently enrolled in these preschools will be included in this component.

Who delivers the support? Child Enabling Executives are deployed to the selected preschools to work closely with the teachers, parents, and local community partners to build a strong network of support for KidSTART children.

As KidSTART is still in a pilot phase, the programme components are for families staying within the pilot regions. Families outside the pilot regions requiring assistance can continue to tap on the existing programmes and services that support children and families in need. For example, they can approach the Social Service Offices, if they require social assistance, or contact preschools if they require a preschool place. There are also various preschool subsidies to help low-income parents defray the cost of preschool.

For more enquiries, please contact us at contact@ecda.gov.sg​.

Information updated as at January 2019

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