Lady Guillemard started the Child Welfare Society in 1923 with a small local committee.
On 23 January 1948, the Chairman of the Society proposed to the Government that the Social Welfare Department (SWD) take over the two crèches because of its financial difficulties. Mr Eames Hughes, Secretary for Social Welfare, agreed .
The Social Welfare Department (SWD), under Mr T P F McNiece (Secretary of Social Welfare), began the Feeding Scheme for children between 2 - 6 years old after the war. Children assessed to be suffering from nutritional deficiencies were given free meals under the scheme. Curious about the children's menu in the early stage of the Scheme ?
Mr T P F McNiece, Secretary of Social Welfare, approached Lady Gimson to organise a panel of voluntary women workers in early January 1947 . The ladies were organised into 4 teams, each with a leader to run centres at Havelock Road, Prinsep Street and Maxwell Road, and one Mobile Centre. Further into the year, more volunteers came forward, and more teams were formed to meet the increasing number of feeding centres.
By Oct 1947, there were 20 feeding centres supervised by 150 voluntary workers. Read more about the valuable work done by the voluntary workers in the feeding programme, and weekly activities at the children's clubs .
VOLUNTARY WORKERS IN CHILDREN'S SOCIAL CENTRES
Voluntary Workers played an important role in the success of the Children's Feeding Centres and Children's Social Centres. When the feeding scheme started in 1947, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) was unable to recruit the large number of staff required. Lady Gimson, wife of His Excellency the Governor, recruited and organised a group of voluntary workers for this purpose .
Voluntary workers helped in the distribution of meals and general supervision of the children. They set up the Children's Centres Fund in 1947 through public subscription (donations), exhibitions and fundraising. The Voluntary Workers Committee controlled the Fund. Those trained in first aid and nursing treated children with minor ailments. They also referred families needing other assistance to relevant sections of the SWD. The voluntary workers and staff engaged children in occupational and educational activities, e.g. gardening, carpentry, rattan work and tailoring together with elementary instruction in English, Chinese, Mathematics, Geography and General Knowledge.
In January 1947, the Department of Social Welfare opened the first two Children's Feeding Centres in Havelock Road and Joo Chiat to provide free meals to under-nourished children aged 2-6 years . In June 1947, the meals were extended to older children aged 7 - 14 years who attended the centres regularly. Feeding Centres became known as Children's Social Centres in 1948.
While staff supplied and served the meals and registered the children, the voluntary workers taught children simple handiwork. Those with experience in nursing treated children with skin diseases and minor ailments. Children who required specialist attention were referred to hospitals for treatment .
The occupational and semi-formal educational activities resulted in the tremendous improvements in the children's educational standards. Reports from doctors also showed that the children's health had improved considerably . Children who were unruly and undisciplined became well-behaved, polite and learnt habits of personal cleanliness and hygiene .
Crèche policy and enrolment criteria were reviewed. In 1964, the upper age limit was raised from 5 to 6 years and in 1965, the upper limit for the combined monthly family income was raised from $300 to $400 to enable more families to use the crèches .
As early as March 1972, the Ministry of Social Affairs considered extending the operation hours of two centres from 5 to 7pm, on a pilot basis, to enable working mothers to pick up their children later. This extension of hours was piloted at Toa Payoh Crèche and Park Road Crèche .
Crèches were originally intended to help low-income families, and so fees were kept low. In the 1940s, daily fees were 10 cents a day or even waived in severe hardship cases.
By the 1970s, there was increasing demand for crèche services for the middle class. Therefore, in 1975, a tiered fee structure was introduced so that while low income families could still find crèches affordable (50 cent or less per day), middle-income parents could also use crèche services .
Before 1959, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) had only two crèches. It took over four other crèches from the City Council in 1959. By 1964, four new crèches were added, bringing the total number to ten . These crèches were all situated in densely populated urban areas. A Medical Officer and nurse visited the crèches regularly to provide medical care to the children.