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Parents can expect to pay less at more childcare centres that have joined ECDA’s support scheme

SINGAPORE — From next year, parents with young children will get to pay lower fees at selected childcare centres, now that more of these centres are part of a government-funded scheme.

Parents can expect to pay less at more childcare centres that have joined ECDA’s support scheme

Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Social and Family Development, and Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, visiting Learning Vision@Interlocal preschool on Nov 25, 2020.

  • More childcare centres are now part of ECDA’s Partner Operator scheme
  • This means that more parents can afford to pay lower fees starting January 2021
  • Centres appointed in the new term have to adhere to fee limits of S$760 a month and S$1,330 a month before tax

 

SINGAPORE — From next year, parents with young children will get to pay lower fees at selected childcare centres, now that more of these centres are part of a government-funded scheme.

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said on Wednesday (Nov 25) that it has appointed 324 childcare centres run by 29 operators to the new term of the Partner Operator scheme, which runs from January 2021 to December 2025.

This is an increase from the 250 centres run by 23 operators who were appointed in the first term.

Centres appointed in the new term have to adhere to fee caps of S$760 a month for full-day childcare services and S$1,330 a month for infant care services, before Goods and Services Tax. The fee caps are S$800 and S$1,400 respectively for now. 

The centres also have to commit to improving quality, such as by attaining Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework qualifications, and investing in teacher training and development.

ECDA first launched the Partner Operator scheme in 2016. Through it, the agency will provide funding support to selected childcare centres, which are evaluated based on accessibility, affordability and quality. 

The new operators are:

  • Catholic Preschool Education

  • Eager Beaver Schoolhouse

  • Greenland Childcare

  • Kinderland Group

  • Little Seeds

  • Nobleland

  • YMCA

More than 27,000 Singaporean children are projected to benefit, an increase of 35 per cent compared with the present term that began on January 2016.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, said that ECDA has an active role in monitoring the maintenance of all the commitments to improving quality and investing in training for personnel. 

He said that ECDA staff members will go down to appointed centres to monitor them and operators that do not meet these criteria “could be terminated immediately”. 

“There is a gradient that we want to achieve in 2025 to match the fees that are charged for after-school care,” he added.

“We have to do that gradually, because we also have to look at the cost of running a childcare centre, to bring the industry down to that level.”

Last year, 50 per cent of preschoolers in Singapore were placed in government-supported preschools. 

Mr Masagos said that the Government is “on track” to increasing this figure to 80 per cent by 2025.

This involves expanding the number of places provided by partner operators, anchor operators, and a small number of kindergartens run by the Ministry of Education.

In January, the income ceiling for childcare and infant care subsidies was raised from S$7,500 a month to S$12,000 a month, and subsidy amounts were increased across all income brackets.

Mr Raman Isnain, 42, a defence executive, said that the subsidies help him by reducing monthly fees by three-quarters. 

After subsidy, he pays S$296 each month for his three-year-old son who attends Learning Vision@Changi Airport, an appointed childcare centre for both terms of the Partner Operator scheme. 

“I think this also helps me a lot,” he said, referring to fee caps imposed on centres under the scheme. With the reduced fee ceiling, he will save about S$43 each month. 

Ms Zeng Yu Shan, 36, a banker with two children, said that the new subsidy will help especially in challenging times when there are uncertainties brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Her two children are both enrolled at NurtureStars Child Care (Tampines), a centre newly appointed to the scheme.

She added: “From the savings we get, we can potentially sign my children up for more enrichment lessons provided by the school for their learning and benefit.

“It isn't difficult to afford the school fees without the subsidy currently but we never know what happens with the pandemic situation evolving and job security at stake. Every dollar helps especially when the school fees are way higher than that of those childcare centres with more government subsidies.” 

The full list of centres under the Partner Operator scheme can be found on ECDA’s website.

Related topics

Partner Operator scheme childcare fees Covid-19 ECDA

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