Temasek charity arm to help toddlers

Tots aged three and below will be one of the groups that Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings, will seek to help as they can be a group at risk of neglect.

"If you look at the current landscape, there is no particular structured programme that targets this specific group of children," noted Temasek Cares chairman Richard Magnus during a media roundtable yesterday.

The new programme - Temasek Cares Kids Integrated Developmental Service (Kids) 0-3 - will provide health-care, social and educational services to children from at-risk families, such as low-income families and single-parent households. The children's mothers will also be offered pre- and post-natal care.

The focus on young children is to ensure that they have the "same starting point (as other children) when they enter preschool", added Mr Magnus.

Child psychiatrist Brian Yeo said that this age range is particularly crucial to the child's development in terms of speech, feeding, toileting, eventually contributing to the child's health and learning abilities in the future.

"Some mothers may not be able to detect if their child has any issues such as dyslexia at that age. Such help will contribute to identifying and addressing problems at a young age," said Dr Yeo.

The pilot period of the initiative will be launched in the coming months and it is expected to reach 300 children.

"Helping to close the developmental gap of children from at-risk families" is one of three groups Temasek Cares will focus on in the next five years, said the institution's general manager, Woon Saet Nyoon.

Families in the "sandwiched" class and the need to build the community's resilience by developing crowd-sourced solutions to enhance community emergency preparedness are the other areas that the organisation plans to earmark $60 million for, from a total endowment value of $289 million.

This is almost triple what was pledged in the first five years since it was launched in 2009. In Temasek Cares' first five years, $22 million was used to implement 67 programmes, which directly benefited almost 17,600 Singaporeans.

Temasek Cares will also work to help not just needy individuals, but also those around them.

This holistic approach "considers all aspects of the individual's long-term well-being, and also the impact on family members and caregivers", said Mr Magnus.

Get MyPaper for more stories.