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Research Study Proves NTUC First Campus’ Child Support Model Works

Over 5,000 children from low-income backgrounds at My First Skool preschools benefit yearly from the integrated assistance and support services.
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By Kay del Rosario 13 Oct 2022
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Kevier Loe is a very active 6-year-old who needed some help with his learning. Last year, his parents, both hawkers, noticed that he had trouble concentrating on his schoolwork.

Although not medically diagnosed, his mother, Ooi Poh Kim, thinks Kevier might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Now in Kindergarten 2 at My First Skool (MFS), he is getting the assistance he needs to thrive.

As he was weaker in literacy, he received Focused Language Assistance in Reading Programme (FLAiR) support and occupational therapy. He also got in-class support from a classroom co-facilitator, which has greatly improved his learning.

Speaking in Mandarin, Mdm Ooi shared that Kevier’s language development has significantly improved. He’s also able to read and recognise letters.

“In terms of temperament and behaviour, he’s also more independent. And he really enjoys English lessons.

“He always talks about it. Last time, he didn’t speak English at home. But, since the class – he really liked the teacher – he has been communicating with us in English,” she said.

Mdm Ooi feels fortunate that Kevier is one of over 30,000 children from 146 MFS preschools who have benefitted from NTUC First Campus’ (NFC) Child Support Model since its inception in 2016.

This Model – which provides a holistic, child-centric and multi-pronged approach to support children from low-income families – has proven effective in leveling the playing field for pre-schoolers like Kevier as they transition to primary school.

NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng (right) speaks with Mdm Ooi Poh Kim, whose family benefits from
NTUC First Campus' Child Support Model.

A Three-Year Study

In 2018, NFC launched a research study with the National Institute of Education (NIE) to understand the effectiveness of their Child Support Model on children and families from low-income backgrounds.

Over three years, the study followed 58 children from low-income families from 10 MFS centres. It tracked their learning and well-being from Kindergarten 1 to Primary 1.

The study evaluated the before and after outcomes of how the situation of these children and their families changed through the assistance and support services, they received under the Model.

On 13 October 2022, NFC shared findings from the study at a media event held at My First Skool’s centre at Yung An Road.

It concluded that the Child Support Model has helped children from low-income families narrow the gap and keep up with their peers in language and cognitive development. The students also showed readiness for primary school.

“Through the Model’s comprehensive approach, I am heartened to know that it has uplifted the lives of not only these children but their working parents and caregivers as well.

“With the peace of mind knowing that their children are well taken care of, they have the confidence and space to improve their family circumstances, through securing better jobs with better wages and prospects,” said NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng who was the Guest-of-Honour at the event.

NFC Chief Executive Officer Chan Su Yee added: “Through our Child Support Model, we hope to level the playing field for the children and families with fewer resources and empower them to achieve their best potential in life.”

Learning Through the Pandemic

Through the COVID-19 situation, NFC further strengthened its support for children and families from low-income backgrounds.

As a result, the study found that the children maintained their language and cognitive development, well-being and involvement levels, despite disruptions during the pandemic.

“NFC is committed to boosting the social mobility of children and families through access to quality preschool education.

“We regularly review and broaden the support areas of our Child Support Model to ensure that our families receive timely support when they need it. We provided care packs to our families during the COVID-19 pandemic and held mental well-being workshops for caregivers of our children this year,” said NFC’s Chief Child Support Officer Louisa Chng.

Kevier’s parents chose to keep him home early this year when COVID cases surged. But when they learnt that the FLAiR lessons had started, they sent him to school more regularly and ensured he attended therapy sessions.

Mdm Ooi is pleased to see how all these have positively impacted Kevier. She hopes he can settle in just as well in primary school, especially in academics.

“I hope he can be strong in character to take on challenges. But, most of all, I want him to be happy and healthy,” she said.