Caregiving help at hand for parents busy at night


Children performing at the official launch of the CareNights@ Morning Star programme yesterday, at a void deck next to a Morning Star Community Services student care centre in Block 95, Bedok North Avenue 4. The free student care service is being piloted to help low-income parents with caregiving after office hours on weekdays. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM



NOV 26, 2016, 5:00 AM SGT

Priscilla Goy


A student care service provided after office hours is being piloted to help parents from low-income families get respite from caregiving at night.

These include parents taking night classes to improve their employability, those doing shift work and those who need to attend to family emergencies, among others.

The CareNights@Morning Star programme offers student care services – such as homework supervision and enrichment activities – for children aged seven to 14. It is held from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays, unlike most centres which operate till 6.30pm on weekdays.

It is free for parents, and they can enrol their children for up to six months while they work on their short-term challenges. Temasek Foundation Cares, a philanthropic arm of investment company Temasek, has committed $683,000 to the three-year pilot programme, which is expected to benefit 540 children and their families.

Its chairman Richard Magnus said: “We met parents who would like to upgrade their skills to improve their employability but are limited by their family commitments to take care of the children.”

The programme allows them to go for night classes with peace of mind, knowing that their children are well taken care of, he said.

It was officially launched yesterday by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at a student care centre run by Morning Star Community Services in Bedok. It has helped 19 children there since it started in July, and will be rolled out to three more Morning Star centres by 2018.

While the evening student care service is mostly run by volunteers, Morning Star executive director Freddie Low said they are well-trained, and the activities are similar to those held in the daytime.

Many of the families helped so far are single-parent ones. One single mother, who wanted to be known only as Paula, was allowed to enrol her special needs son in the programme even though he was only five years old.

The office administrator, 35, takes night classes in early childhood and hopes to make a career switch and become a pre-school teacher.

She said: “It would be good if such services were extended to younger children, especially those from single-parent families because they don’t have much family support.”


This article was originally published in The Straits Times on 26 November 2016

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