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Enrolment in infant-care centres up 60% since 2012

SINGAPORE — About one in 10 babies 18 months old or younger are enrolled in an infant-care centre today, a growth of 60 per cent since 2012 due to greater participation of females and seniors in the workforce, as well as parents’ greater acceptance and trust in the care provided by such centres.

Enrolment in infant-care centres up 60% since 2012

Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) Josephine Teo on a visit to a new childcare centre in Tampines on Monday (Dec 5). Photo: MSF/NPTD

SINGAPORE — About one in 10 babies 18 months old or younger are enrolled in an infant-care centre today, a growth of 60 per cent since 2012 due to greater participation of females and seniors in the workforce, as well as parents’ greater acceptance and trust in the care provided by such centres.

Commenting on the “significant growth” in demand for such facilities at the sidelines of a visit to a new childcare centre in Tampines on Monday (Dec 5), Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) Josephine Teo said close to 10 per cent of babies under 18 months, or 4,000 of them, are enrolled in centre-based care. 

Mrs Teo, who helps to oversee the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), said: “What this tells us is if we want to provide better support to millennial families, this is the area we want to look into.”

Centre-based care is increasingly becoming acceptable or even preferred by parents, she also shared, citing an NPTD survey conducted with 1,500 parents of young citizen children between June and August this year where respondents were asked about their preferences for childcare if their families are unable to help.

Some 83 per cent said they “prefer” or find infant-care centres “acceptable”, compared with 63 per cent for nannies and 50 per cent for unsupervised foreign domestic workers.

The survey also found similar satisfaction levels between parents whose children are cared for by family members and those who enrol their children in infant-care centres. 

More than 80 per cent of these parents say they are either satisfied or very satisfied with the level of care by family members or in infant-care centres.

Among stay-home parents, some 53 per cent said they would prefer to work if there was an adequate care arrangement for their infants.

Mrs Teo said one reason for the increase in demand for such facilities could be because both the mothers and the grandparents are at work, leading families to seek non-familial childcare options. 

And the centre-based care is preferred over nannies or unsupervised domestic helpers due to the good quality of care provided.

On its part, the Government has stepped up efforts to increase places in infant-care and childcare centres, said Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim during the same visit.

Assoc Prof Faishal said from 2013, the number of infant-care places has increased by 32 per cent to 6,900. Full-day childcare places have also gone up by 40 per cent to 130,000 places, exceeding even MSF’s target.

Going ahead, the Government will continue to monitor local demand very closely, he added.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said one in four babies 18 months or younger are in enrolled in infant care centres today. The correct figure is one in 10 babies. We apologise for the error.

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