Temasek Cares initiative to help children from families at risk

Published: 4:06 AM, July 2, 2014

SINGAPORE — Beginning with help for a pregnant mother — such as prenatal care and job support — to support for a child even before he or she enters pre-school, a new programme by Temasek Cares aims to assist children from families at risk, so they start life on a better footing.

The programme, which will be launched within the next few months, is one of several new initiatives announced yesterday by Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings, which yesterday pledged an additional endowment of S$60 million. This would bring the total endowment to S$289 million.

The programme, called Temasek Cares Kids Integrated Developmental Service 0-3 (KIDS 0-3), will assist children up to the age of three. “We scanned the whole landscape and not one structured programme helps children from prenatal to three years old. Most of the time, parents take their children to enrichment classes before pre-school, but where do families with financial difficulties get help to do that?” said Ms Woon Saet Nyoon, general manager of Temasek Cares.

KIDS 0-3 will bring together KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs), government agencies, community partners and private organisations to support the beneficiaries’ educational, social, cognitive and health needs. For example, they will advise pregnant mothers on proper nutrition, assign case workers to remind them of prenatal and postnatal check-ups and help young single mothers continue their education after giving birth. Ms Woon said there were also plans to track them for a “longitudinal study on how they fare after the programme”.

Temasek Cares also plans to roll out over the next five years a palliative care programme for dementia patients and a project to train the public on how to help someone in an emergency before an ambulance arrives.

Temasek Cares chairman Richard Magnus noted that there was a need to build up the capacity of VWOs. “Those whom we met told us that, with their limited resources, they could not bring in professionals and were just meeting basic needs. But emerging needs are more urgent as the population grows — for example, a VWO may help a child with learning difficulties, but what about his or her parents?” he said.

Mr Magnus also said a new social model was needed and a “whole of nation” approach — rather than depending on one organisation — was necessary for impactful social change.

In Temasek Cares’ first five years, S$22 million was used to implement 67 programmes that directly benefited almost 17,600 Singaporeans. Such programmes include IMPACTT (Involving and Motivating Parents And Caregivers Through Training), a partnership with KKH to train parents of children with special needs.

Mr Tang Hui Nee, head of community services at KKH, said IMPACTT has taught parents how to help their children at the early age of between two to six years old, rather than later when it may be more difficult to make an impact. “We’re not just helping with the children’s problems, but also equipping parents with basic long-term skills such as recognising potential inappropriate behaviour,” he said.