SINGAPORE – Mr Amparo Juan Carlos Camero and his wife, Ms Jasmine Tan, had taken their 21-month-old son for a vaccination at Punggol Polyclinic on Jan 3, when a coordinator there told them they could tap some free parenting programmes nearby.

Parents would usually have to search on their own for such programmes, including one that guides the little ones through play and develops their language and problem-solving skills.

But Family Nexus@Punggol, an initiative at Punggol Polyclinic, has brought together health and social service coordinators to make referrals for young families, making it more convenient.

It was conceptualised by the Ministry of Health (MOH), following feedback from parents and couples who asked for more community resources and support in parenthood.

Said Mr Carlos, 26, a financial consultant: “It feels like we have a loving community reaching out to us, instead of us having to source it (parenting help).”

Led by the MOH and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), the pilot programme at Punggol Polyclinic directs young parents to the relevant social services and programmes, including those on marriage and parenting.

Apart from Punggol, there are similar initiatives at Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic, Sembawang Polyclinic and Our Tampines Hub.

At the launch of Family Nexus@Punggol on Jan 22, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Health, and Communications and Information, said: “We hope that families with young children in Punggol and the north-east region will have more convenient access to health and parenting services.”

The support programmes are run by community partners such as the Families for Life Council, a movement which promotes resilient families that comes under the MSF.
Health-wise, Punggol Polyclinic provides young families with access to developmental assessment and screening for growth concerns for children, and postnatal depression and lactation support for mothers.

More than 190 referrals have been made to the parenting programmes through the polyclinic since Family Nexus@Punggol started in December 2023, said Dr Guo Xiaoxuan, clinic director and programme lead at the polyclinic.

Source: The Straits Times, Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.