The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced on Friday the rollout of the Development Support Programme (DSP) in pre-schools to provide children with mild developmental delays learning support and therapy intervention.
Under the programme first piloted in May 2012, a group of Learning Support Educators (LSEds) was trained and deployed to work closely with parents and teachers to support the children.
Therapy teams from voluntary welfare organisations played a complementary role by providing appropriate therapy intervention for children who require greater support. Over a year, over 300 children from about 90 pre-schools received support under the programme.
The effectiveness of the pilot programme was independently evaluated by a team of specialists from the KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
Based on pre and post intervention results on a standardised screening tool, progress made on the children's Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and feedback from early childhood educators and parents, children who had received support through the DSP showed significant improvement.
Children who had completed their intervention packages showed improvements in age-equivalence scores under the Brigance Screen - which assesses developmental progress in the motor, language and academic skills domains.
47 per cent of the children who had completed their intervention packages fully attained their IEP goals, while half attained 80 per cent of the goals.
90 per cent of parents, pre-school teachers and pre-school centre supervisors gave positive feedback on the programme.
Based on the encouraging results of the pilot, MSF will roll out the programme to cover m ore pre - schools in different geographical areas.
Refinements and improve ments to the programme will also be made. MSF estimates that 2,000 children will benefit from the programme each year when the rollout is completed. The annual investment in the programme will rise to about $ 4 million.
At an event to acknowledge the contributions of the pre - schools, VWOs, LSEds and therapists who participated in the pilot, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Chan Chun Sing said , "Through early intervention, we hope to help children with mild developmental delays overcome their challenges earlier.
"This is an important focus area under the Enabling Masterplan. The encouraging result from the pilot gives us the confidence to roll out the Development Support Programme to support more childre n in more pre - schools and regions, even as we continue to make improvements."
Mr Chan also acknowledged the role played by the LSEds. He said "The Learning Support Educators played a very important role in supporting the children in developmental areas in behaviour, language, literacy, social and motor skills."
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