For society to progress, it is only fair that every child can achieve the best possible start in life.
Little Steps @ North West, a new initiative by the North West Community Development Council (CDC), was launched specifically to support this vision.
Under the scheme, children supported by the KidSTART programme will receive S$500 annually as long as they are aged six and below.
Speaking at the launch, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said that he hopes the cash assistance can help defray some of the costs during this period of heightened inflation and enable families to focus on their child’s development.
This modest handout is just one of the many ways the government tries to tackle inequality and ensure no one (or no child in this instance) will be left behind as the country progresses.
“I hope this will make a meaningful difference in the lives of these young families”, DPM Wong said later in his Facebook post.
“We are committed to ensuring all our children have the best possible start in life”, he reiterated.
Supporting the aspirations of low-income families
All parents want the best for their children.
But in the case of low-income families overwhelmed by bread-and-butter issues, there is often very little bandwidth left to focus on their children’s development.
It is very much a textbook example of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Shelter and feed the children. Everything else can come later.
That is not a problem in the Stone Age. Except in modern-day society, the laissez-faire method of child-rearing perpetuates a development gap that will affect a child all the way into adulthood.
How then, can we speak of a fair and equitable society if a child, through no fault of their own, has to spend the rest of their life playing catch-up?
Short of using affirmative action, the PAP Government has introduced a slew of policies to level the playing field for underprivileged children.
KidSTART is one such programme that provides upstream support for lower-income families.
Through home visits, playgroups and preschool support, it hopes to equip parents with the skills to guide and nurture their children in their physical, cognitive and social development.
Community Link is somewhat similar, providing children living in rental housing with academic and enrichment programmes their middle-class counterparts tend to take for granted.
A new national plan launched last November – A Singapore Made for Families (MMF 2025) – is also on a mission to support programmes that would help uplift lower-income families.
Building a fair and just society
Children should not be penalised and deprived of opportunities due to their family income, but they are.
As a nation, we can no longer turn a blind eye to such issues unless we want meritocracy to disintegrate before our eyes.
Therefore, the government must and will continue to invest in a comprehensive and holistic support system to help poorer families break the cycle.
Otherwise, instead of a strong, united community, we might end up with a fractured society marked by extreme inequality. And that is something we do not want.
Cover Photo Credit: Lawrence Wong via Facebook