Singapore

President Halimah praises CareNights programme

The CareNights@Morning Star programme provides free after-hours childcare for low-income families and single parents

As a single mother of three young children, Ms Lydia Indranee, 34, has to juggle caring for her energetic youngsters, aged seven to 11, with full-time work.

This presents a challenge for the human resource manager, who often has to work overtime as well.

But thanks to the CareNights@Morning Star programme offered by Morning Star Community Services, she and other parents in tight situations can get some respite.

Conceived in November 2016, it is a free after-hours programme for children of parents who face pressing needs such as overtime work or night classes, have to attend to family crises, are from low-income households, or single parents like Ms Indranee.

It is offered at three of its six centres, in Bedok North, Sengkang and Primavera.

Yesterday, President Halimah Yacob visited the Bedok North branch and was greeted with a dance performed by the children at the centre.

President Halimah interacted with parents and participated in a birthday celebration held every two months for all children whose birthdays fall within the period.

CareNights runs from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays, during which children aged six to 14 get homework supervision and are engaged in various activitiessuch as journalling.

Dinner is also provided.

Parents can enrol their children for up to six months while they sort out their short-term challenges.

Sometimes they are recommended by social service organisations.

President Halimah said in a post on Facebook that she enjoyed a lively evening with the children from the programme.

"Glad to know that parents with lower income background are receiving respite care support through the centre's programme. Such support is vital in maintaining a cohesive family relationship," she wrote.

Morning Star Community Services also provides upstream, preventive and early intervention programmes for children from problem backgrounds.

Aiming to strengthen family relationships in Singapore, the organisation offers family life education workshops and counselling services as well.

For Ms Indranee, whose children have been enrolled since mid-2018, the programme gives her peace of mind to know they are engaged in meaningful activities, including learning how to do household chores.

"They are very eager to attend every day," she said.

"They love it."

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