Need an extra pair of hands to help with the arrival of your newborn child? If you are getting a foreign domestic worker (FDW) to assist with your infant, consider sending her for the new infant care training course that was announced in parliament on 2 March 2017 by Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Josephine Teo.
The course is jointly developed by NTUC’s SEED Institute, an early childhood education institute, and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH). Over four consecutive Sundays from 9am to 5pm, FDWs will be equipped with the basic know-how in caring for and interacting with infants. Employers are encouraged to join their helpers for part of the course (a half-day session).
The first run of the course will take place from 2 to 23 April 2017, and has a maximum class size of 20 people. Currently, there are plans to run another four rounds of the course.
SEED had noticed a trend towards new parents employing FDWs to care for their young children, as more mothers and grandparents choose to remain in the workforce. With this training, it believes that parents will be able to have the peace of mind when they leave their infants at home with their helper. It will draw from the strengths of the institutions – SEED for its knowledge on how to support the development of infant and how to interact with infants, and KKH with their expertise in infant healthcare.
According to Pauline Wee, assistant director of nursing, KKH: “The basic infant care training for domestic helpers is practice oriented, with simple explanations, hands-on demonstrations, role-play and pictorial explanations for ease of understanding for the domestic helpers. Short and simple activities will also be designed for participants to take home, to ensure application at home.”
The curriculum was drawn up after consultation with parents about what their key concerns were in terms of leaving their child at home with their helper, reveals Katherine Soh, Manager, Business Excellence, SEED. Safety and hygiene were the top concerns, following by equipping the helpers with the knowledge to stimulate and engage infants in a way that would aid their development.
These are all part of the syllabus that will be covered. In the Interaction with infants module, participants will be taught how to observe and respond to babies’ non-verbal communication, as well as simple activities they can do with the child. Key points with regard to the safety of infants during daily care such as, how to feed the baby to prevent choking, hands-on practice on how to bath a baby, and how to prepare and handle milks, will also be taught.
A key part of the course is the partnership component, where caring for the infant should be a partnership between the employer and helper, and communication between both parties will be encouraged, says Ms Soh. Employers will be encouraged to participate in part of the course and go through the practice stations together with their helpers.
Grace Chee, mother of a four-month-old baby is considering sending her helper for the course as she believes it will aid her helper in understanding the how and why infants should be cared for in a certain manner. “Also, the hands-on demonstrations will be helpful for helpers to practise and be given feedback on how they are doing,” she says. However, she does have reservations as English is not always the first language of FDWs and this may impact their understanding.
Loh Wan Ping, who is currently seven months pregnant, says that while the course is good, the communication between helper and employer is more essential, especially if they learn something that is different from how their employer prefers to do it. She concludes: “In that sense, it might be better for those who are getting helpers to help the grandparents with caring for the infants to learn from the grandparents to prevent any conflicts from arising.”
Basic Infant Care Training for Foreign Domestic Workers curriculum:
- Understanding & Supporting the Development of Infants
- Infant Care Hygiene & Safety
- Interaction with Infants
- Common Concerns about Infants
- Hands on Demonstration & Practice Stations
- Milk/Food Preparation & Feeding
- Partnership with Family (employer is strongly encouraged to attend)
- Hands-on Assessment