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Rental subsidies for operators opening pre-schools in heartlands

SINGAPORE — Pre-school operators looking to set up shop in non-void deck spaces in heartland areas such as Punggol, Jurong West, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang and Tampines could get between 30 and 60 per cent off their rental, after a new subsidy was rolled out by the Government yesterday.

To support teachers in their career development, scholarships and training awards will be made available to educators from all registered kindergartens. TODAY file photo

To support teachers in their career development, scholarships and training awards will be made available to educators from all registered kindergartens. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — Pre-school operators looking to set up shop in non-void deck spaces in heartland areas such as Punggol, Jurong West, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang and Tampines could get between 30 and 60 per cent off their rental, after a new subsidy was rolled out by the Government yesterday.

The Portable Rental Subsidy Scheme is part of a suite of infrastructure support programmes introduced to enable pre-school operators who receive little or no government funding to expand childcare places in “high demand areas” and workplaces.

The schemes, which are expected to cost up to S$40 million over the next five years, form part of a broader plan to raise the quality, affordability and accessibility of pre-schools here. Last month, the Government announced that it will invest S$25 million to support voluntary welfare organisations and other operators offering programmes to help disadvantaged children.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a visit to the Just Kids Learning Place at Taman Jurong, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said the latest round of measures are aimed at accelerating the expansion of child care capacity in commercial spaces, workplaces and community facilities.

The move is also to bring childcare facilities closer to residents in new towns like Punggol, Sengkang and Jurong, he added

To qualify for the schemes, non-anchor operators have to meet the criteria for quality and charge prices below the Early Childhood Development Agency’s fee cap.

Fees have to be capped at S$850 for childcare, S$210 for kindergartens and S$1,450 for infant care. Some 1,000 pre-schools could potentially benefit. A new Kindergarten Conversion Grant was also introduced, which would give kindergartens the flexibility to provide full-day care places by defraying the cost of converting the premises.

Explaining the rationale behind the move, Mr Chan said: “Because of the changing demographics, some of the kindergartens in some of the more mature estates may face a declining enrolment and with that we hope to use their existing capacity to help them convert to childcare centres, so that we can also expand the overall childcare places across the island.”

Two schemes will also be enhanced. The Community/Sports Facilities Scheme will be extended to commercial childcare centres, and the Workplace Child Care Centre Scheme extended to non-government owned buildings. Previously, only government-owned buildings were eligible for the development grant.

A new Teaching & Learning Resources Grant will also be extended to support a child’s holistic development, offering up to S$4,000 per year to purchase materials and equipment. All five pre-school operators contacted welcomed yesterday’s announcements. Ms Lynn Ng, Marketing Director of Cambridge Child Development Centre, said the schemes could potentially help pre-schools with two issues they face when setting up a new centre — high rentals and a shortage in teachers.

“It would be very helpful as any savings from rental can be steered towards increasing our teacher’s salaries,” she said. The Government is expected to make an announcement on its manpower strategies for the pre-school industry in November.

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