52 childcare operators sign up for Government-funded scheme
Partner operators will receive government funding to keep fees low, have to adhere to the fee cap and ensure affordability
More than 50 childcare operators have applied to be under the government-funded Partner Operator (POP) scheme to benefit more families next year.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said yesterday it received 52 applications from operators when the application deadline closed last Friday, more than double the number of operators on the existing POP term.
There are currently 23 operators running 250 childcare centres for the first term of the POP scheme, which started in January 2016 and will end this December.
There are currently more than 20,000 children attending these pre-schools.
For centres under the second term, the maximum fee that partner operators can charge for full-day childcare services will be set at $760 monthly, $40 lower than the current fee cap of $800.
For full-day infant care services, the amount is set at $1,330 monthly, $70 cheaper than the current $1,400 per month.
Childcare centres appointed under the POP scheme will be provided funding support by ECDA to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of their childcare and infant care services.
The ECDA hopes to expand the scheme and appoint more centres for the second term from 2021 to 2025.
Appointed centres will have to reduce fees within the revised fee caps for Singapore Citizen children, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.
Applications for the new term were from a mix of both commercial and not-for-profit operators as well as operators on the existing POP term.
ECDA chief executive Jamie Ang said: "As we review the applications carefully, we hope to increase the number of government-supported pre-schools so that we can continue to assure families of quality, affordable and accessible pre-schools."
The ECDA said the move to further lower fee caps at government-supported pre-schools is so that working families with a child in full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees.
This currently totals to about $300 per month, before means-tested pre-school subsidies are applied.
This builds on recent pre-school subsidy enhancements where more families now pay less for pre-school as the income ceiling or childcare and infant care Additional Subsidy was raised from $7,000 to $12,000 a month.
The Government's annual spending on the early childhood sector is expected to more than double over the next few years, from around $1 billion in 2018.