Singapore

More aid for pre-school kids from families with lower income

Pre-school children from lower-income homes will get more educational and healthcare support with a programme that will get $3.38 million in funding from the Temasek Foundation.

Launched by the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Temasek Foundation yesterday, the Temasek Foundation First Step Programme aims to provide financial support for lower-income families to reduce the barriers to pre-school enrolment.

Under the programme, eligible children enrolled in infant care to Nursery 2 at PCF Sparkletots will receive a top-up in their Child Development Account (CDA) of $200 a year for two years. With the Government's dollar-for-dollar matching contributions, each child's CDA will receive up to $800 over two years.

Families with a monthly household income of $4,500 and below, or per capita income of $1,125 and below, will be eligible to benefit from the top-up.

PCF will be conducting virtual briefing sessions with community partners and social service agencies to share information on the importance of early childhood education, as well as the various financial support schemes available.

The sessions will help social service agencies encourage more lower-income families to enrol their children in pre-school.

TWO COHORTS

The First Step Programme will benefit about 8,500 PCF Sparkletots children in two cohorts. PCF Sparkletots has more than 40,000 children enrolled in about 360 pre-schools here.

The programme is on top of existing schemes to help defray fees - these schemes include government subsidies and the PCF Enhanced Headstart Fund.

Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman said: "I am heartened by the timely partnership between PCF and Temasek Foundation, which seeks to enhance access to quality pre-school education by helping parents defray pre-school costs."

Temasek Foundation deputy chairman Richard Magnus said the gap between children who attend pre-school and those who do not may widen further as they move through the education system.

"The programme will help optimise the development of children from lower-income families, as well as provide additional support for families who may experience financial difficulties arising from the pandemic," he said.

This article first appeared in The Straits Times.

Education