1 in 5 childcare centres to raise fees
Most centres had reported their fare hikes before enhanced subsidies were announced, says ECDA
One in five childcare centres is raising its fees for full-day programmes next year, a move that has drawn unhappiness from parents interviewed. Some pointed out that it comes shortly after additional subsidies were announced last month.
The monthly income ceiling for families to qualify for additional subsidies was raised from $7,500 to $12,000. The quantum of additional subsidies was also raised, with more for those earning less.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said that 330 childcare centres will be increasing their full-day fees for Singapore citizens from next year. The median increase is "within 5 per cent of fees" and "broadly comparable" to previous years, it added.
Also, a large majority of the centres had informed ECDA of their planned hike for next year before the enhanced subsidies were announced on Aug 28. The rest did so before ECDA's Sept 1 deadline.
This year, 220 centres raised fees and last year, 540 did so.
Said the agency: "Most pre-schools seek to ensure that their fee increases which are needed to keep pace with costs are not excessive, in order to remain competitive and attractive to parents."
The two biggest pre-school operators, PAP Community Foundation's (PCF) Sparkletots and NTUC Campus' My First Skool, which have about 500 centres between them, are increasing fees in some centres that are charging less than others. So is Star Learners, a partner operator with 35 centres under the scheme.
Anchor and partner operators get government funding to keep fees low and have a fee cap to adhere to.
PCF corporate affairs manager Samuel Ng said the changes will affect only "a few centres" operating "well below" the fee cap. The increase is within 5 per cent of fees, and parents were told in July.
A My First Skool spokesman said it is "making slight fee adjustments at some remaining centres to progressively standardise our fees across the network", bringing fees to the cap of $720.
The other three anchor operators - Skool4Kidz, MY World Preschool and E-Bridge Pre-School - said they were not increasing their fees.
A Star Learners spokesman said that it reviews fees annually to defray rising operating costs and continue providing quality childcare and education. It takes into consideration factors such as location and rental costs.
Partner operator PPIS will raise fees by 5 per cent. It said it will still be under the cap and the hike will help it continue to enhance its curriculum and benefit children at its centres.
Tampines GRC MP Desmond Choo told The Straits Times yesterday: "Regular fee increases are normal in a sustainable and professional early childcare education industry as we need to pay our teachers more and get better teaching materials. However, we must always guard against profiteering."