KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) has once again partnered with Lien Foundation and the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), Singapore’s largest preschool operator, to launch Mission I’mPossible 2 (MIP2), a pilot programme that will provide earlier identification and intervention for children with developmental needs.
MIP2 builds on the successful first iteration of the programme, Mission I’mPossible 1 (MIP1), which was launched in 2009 by PCF, KKH, and Lien Foundation, at 25 preschools. MIP1 has since been adapted by the government, implemented in more than 600 preschools, and is known today as the Development Support Learning Support (DS-LS) Programme.
With MIP2, the age of screening and referrals has been lowered to as early as two months old. This will give a much longer runway for support and intervention, compared to the current ages of five and six in the DS-LS Programme. As far as feasible, the support for the child will be conducted within the preschool classroom environment alongside his or her peers as part of a routine lesson, as the classroom setting is often the more natural – and thereby more effective – environment for a child requiring support.
“Early childhood is a period of vulnerability and also opportunity. Studies have demonstrated that attendance in a high quality preschool programme and attention to a child’s physical and cognitive development in early childhood are associated with better metabolic and mental health, as well as academic and socio-economic outcomes later in life. It is therefore imperative that children with developmental needs are identified early and provided with early intervention and support,” said Clinical Associate Professor Chan Yoke Hwee, Chairman of the Division of Medicine, KKH, and Programme Director of MIP2.
MIP2 will cost $12.1 million, of which $9.27 million is supported by the Lien Foundation, with the balance funded by PCF and KKH. The programme will comprise a comprehensive combination of initiatives, such as the establishment of a school-based Child Development Unit at PCF with the support of KKH; the Parents’ Circle of Support, a support network run by the preschool’s social workers; and early screening. It aims to demonstrate how 3 services – education, healthcare and social support – can be integrated and delivered from within a preschool, a place that is central and natural to busy young families. For children who require attention, the most appropriate support programme will be identified, whether it is part of the MIP2 programme or outside of it, such as an existing government-funded programme, so as to avoid duplication of effort. In the long run, MIP2 hopes to provide holistic assistance for families that have children with developmental needs, and to see them embrace the early intervention and support provided to their children.
Mr Ng Tze Yong, Programme Director of Lien Foundation, said, “By going upstream, MIP2 aims to reduce costs. Not just financial costs through lowering downstream demand for early intervention and disability services but more importantly, the emotional costs to families and societal costs of the loss of human potential incurred when intervention comes too late for children to catch up.”
The MIP2 pilot will be launched in 16 preschools operated by PCF, in Punggol and Sengkang gradually over four years and aims to benefit about 1,800 children annually when fully implemented. An evaluation study will be conducted at the end of 4 years.
The MIP2 programme is one way SingHealth works with key partners to integrate education, healthcare and social services, with the goal to maximise the growth and development of every child to his or her fullest potential, thereby, laying the foundation for the future health of our population.
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