Facilitating access to EI support

2. Facilitating access to EI support

2.1 Parent engagement

Some parents may not be ready to hear that their child has needs that differ from other typically developing children. Such news may come as a shock and trigger a myriad of emotions that parents will need to grapple with.

Check out these resources to understand parent’s acceptance level through Kubler-Ross Model of grief:

If you are the parent, how will you like to be spoken to informed of something unexpected or concerning? As an ICO, you can guide your centre in engaging parents with sensitivity, compassion and empathy. This includes:

  • 1. Facilitating parent’s understanding of the child’s development by sharing factual observations of child and support that will benefit the child at this point in time.
    • Ensure objectivity when delivering the message
    • Share factual observations gathered by the EC educator (e.g., ECA, SDQ forms)
    • “Show” instead of “tell” by using factual statements like “a child at 3 years old is expected to… Abby is currently doing this”.

  • 2. Addressing parent’s concerns (and misconceptions, if any) by highlighting every child is unique in terms of strengths and abilities. EI support is focused on helping the child to achieve more positive developmental outcomes, and not intended to label the child in any way.

  • 3. Guiding the parent in navigating next steps by clearly outlining what to expect, including the procedures and documents required.

2.1.1 The first conversation: Guide for engaging parents of children with potential DN

Centre leaders and EC educators may refer to this guide when planning their first conversation with parents. Some conversations may be more challenging than others. As an ICO, you can familiarise yourself with these steps so that you can provide relevant support to your centre leader/EC educator where necessary:

  • Be sensitive to parents' feelings as they may not even know that child has developmental red flags






  • Parents may at this point feel guilty and denies that child is like that at home. The 5 stages of grief may provide a perspective to the reason(s) for parents’ feelings of denial or in some case, anger. Some parents may find it difficult to associate the image of the child with developmental needs with the same child they have been raising. Additionally, research showed that the grief could be akin to the grief of “child loss” for some parents.
  • In instances like this, acknowledge the observations that parent has provided first. Share gently about your observations of the child in the centre. (“I hear that your child does not behave like this at home and that he is able to sit and being fed by his caregiver. Please note that in the centre, he is displaying his behaviour almost everyday during meal time.“)

  • The journey for parents to understand and eventually accept a child’s developmental needs is complex. Some parents will feel anxious and worried, and some may feel overwhelmed when we share the needs of the child.

Check out these resources for effective communication, which are relevant for conversations with parents too:

  • Empowering parents or caregivers through a positive and uplifting attitude towards children with diverse and various needs, and timely support to parents and children are crucial to child’s holistic development outcome . As a first step, you may consider acknowledging parent’s feelings. Example: “We can feel that you are worried after our sharing, please understand that we are sharing for the good of your child. We want you to know your child’s stage of development and how can we help you to support his needs.”)

2.2 Facilitating referral to a suitable programme

2.2.1 Government-funded EI programmes

Early intervention programmes provide better support for the families, caregivers and their children with developmental needs. The government funds a continuum of EI programmes to address the needs of children with varying levels of EI support needs:

Placement in the EI programme will depend on the child’s level of support needs and age.

For younger children (i.e. Playgroup, Pre-Nursery, and Term 1 – 3 of Nursery year) identified to have developmental needs, placement will be determined after a formal assessment by the paediatrician at KKH DCD/NUH CDU.

Here are some tips on how you can support parents to seek further medical assistance for their child:

  • Prepare a letter to polyclinic that serves as a documentation of child’s behaviour and functioning in centre. This letter should consist of child’s name, BC and class level, and signed off by centre leader. Parents can bring this letter along when during child’s visit to KKH DCD/NUH CDU for further assessment.
  • In the letter to polyclinic, provide statement of concerns (e.g., child had behavioural concerns such as attention and temper tantrums frequently displayed in the centre) and avoid using these words “to be diagnosed”.

For older children (i.e. Term 4 of Nursery year, Kindergarten 1, Kindergarten 2) enrolled in centres with DS-LS programme, the child may be recommended to receive a DS or LS intervention package, or referred to hospital (i.e. KKH DCD/NUH CDU) for follow up. The latter will apply if your centre is not offering DS-LS programme.

  • For centres with DS-LS programme, work closely with the EC educator and LSEd to follow up and see through the child’s referral to DS-LS. If needed, the EC educator (and ICO, if needed) may wish to sit in LSEd’s meeting with parent so that there is common understanding of child’s needs and follow-up required. 
  • If the child clearly requires higher levels of EI support (beyond DS-LS programme), do recommend for the child to visit polyclinic directly for referrals to KKH DCD/NUH CDU.

2.2.2 Private intervention services

Parents may also opt for child to receive intervention from a private EI provider. You may wish to refer parents to the Parents’ Guide for Young Children Who Require Early Intervention which provide some tips and suggestions things to consider when advising parents on the type of EI services and service providers.

2.2.3 Support within centre

Whether a child is placed in an EI programme or not, as an ICO, you may wish to discuss with your centre leader and the child’s EC educator on how the child could be supported in the preschool centre. This can exist in the form of in-class strategies and approaches that are targeted in supporting child’s needs. Your centre can also explore and consider tapping on additional programmes and resources available within your organisation (e.g., specialist team at HQ, literacy programmes offered to centres) and in the wider community (e.g., HPB programmes).

Support within centre will also benefit children whose parents have declined or are not ready for child’s referral for further assessment/support.