The Circle Of Care programme provides integrated childcare to all children, including those with greater needs, through a holistic learning approach and social work support to their families.
Children who puff on pretend cigarettes in class. Children who ask teachers about why “daddy beats mommy”. And children who attend school only a handful of times a month, arriving unfed. It is a side of Singapore few get to see, but for preschoolers from disadvantaged backgrounds, the effects of poverty and family strife emerge early and can be noticed in the classroom.

At home, these children face a myriad mix of challenges, such as single parenthood, divorce, mental health issues, disabilities, substance abuse, abandonment, family violence, incarceration, and repatriation of non-citizen parents.
Addressing their needs must be a priority. Research shows that intervention is more effective when done during early childhood instead of the teenage years. Even an economic argument exists: When children grow up to be productive adults, society saves costs from incarceration and social assistance. But above all, it is important because it speaks to our cherished principle of meritocracy.

The preschool offers the best odds for effective intervention simply because it is a naturalistic setting where children spend hours daily. But it would require deploying additional resources to support teachers.
In the Circle Of Care, this is done through an ecological model where social workers, educational therapists, teachers and principals – professionals who usually work apart – come together as a multi-disciplinary team in a preschool.

Working hand in glove with parents and the community, they weave a stronger system of support around an at-risk child.
Three years after its 2013 launch, COC is expanding from 2 preschools to 9 preschools and 2 primary schools. The preschools come from 3 non-profit organisations; 2 are among the 5 anchor preschool operators in Singapore.
COC has also been turned from a pilot project into a formal service offered by Care Corner to preschool operators. A training programme has been created to introduce this new approach of intervention to social workers, educational therapists, teachers and professionals who work in related fields.

Driving this expansion is the concept of COC Clusters: “Feeder” preschools grouped around an “anchor” primary school, that will create a structured transition for children, especially those from at-risk backgrounds.
This will be done via the COC Primary School Transition Programme, which will provide a formalised manner of information-sharing and joint care of at-risk children between pastoral care staff in a primary school and the social workers from COC. To allow for smooth baton-passing, at-risk children and their families will be supported by COC until Primary 3.
Our Partners
Convenor and Funder
Project Lead


Partner Preschools


Partner Primary Schools


Partner Organizations


Our Stories
Another side of Singapore.

Alvin’s Story

Five-year-old Alvin was doing well academically, but had a habit of hitting classmates. On weekends, neighbours would find him and his siblings sitting by themselves at a kopitiam for hours.

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Emily’s Story

Six-year-old Emily’s confidence belied her age. When adults asked her “how are you?”, she was the only child in her class with the maturity to ask the question back. Her brave front never cracked, no matter what she went through at home.

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Alex’s Story

Four-year-old Alex was struggling in class, and exhibiting unusual behavior. The help he needed was available, but just barely out of reach.

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COC has demonstrated measurable results in improving child outcomes.

Negligible 54%

Attendance at Parent-Teacher Conferences

In one preschool, attendance at Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTCs) rose from near-zero in 2013 to 54% in 2015. Considered by early childhood professionals to be a vital indicator of parental involvement in the most formative phase of a child’s development, attendance at PTCs is nonetheless a perennial challenges that plagues preschools working with at-risk children, due to lack of interest or instability at home caused by a variety of factors.


Percentage of undiscovered social work cases

The needs on the ground were more severe than anticipated. Of the 76 social work cases that the COC team managed, 30% were newly discovered. This means that the at-risk child and his or her family were not served by any organisation, even though they had needs. The families may not have sought help, or organisations serving them previously closed their cases when the families became uncontactable or when their circumstances improved. Observation of the child’s behavior in COC preschools, however, provided vital clues that, behind the scenes, the family’s needs persisted.

75% – 100%

Percentage of at-risk children who attained school-readiness

Educational therapists improved the literacy and numeracy skills of between 75% and 100% of the children assigned to them using specialist techniques, sometimes just before the start of Primary 1.

30% 70%

School attendance

At-risk children may be formally enrolled, but attend preschool irregularly. This could be caused by issues relating to health, financial, employment, housing and death in the family. By working with the families, COC staff succeeded in raising attendance rates for these children from below 30% to 67%.

It takes a village to raise a child.
Will you be part of our work?
Do you have a skill to teach? Are you from a company with products or services that can improve the lives of these children? We’d like to hear from you.
Learn about why integrated childcare is important

Quantifying poverty

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Poverty produces smaller brains

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It’s not about bad choices

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Coverage and press releases about COC

Care Corner Singapore
Circle of Care Child Services Office
Block 624B Woodlands Drive 52, #01-19, Singapore 732624 
Email: circleofcare@carecorner.org.sg