Singapore

More childcare centres join government-funded scheme to lower fees

324 childcare centres have joined govt-funded scheme to lower fees for families from next year

More parents with young children will pay less for pre-school from next year, with more centres joining a government-funded scheme to lower fees for families.

A total of 324 childcare centres, run by 29 operators or consortia, have been appointed to the new round of the partner operator scheme, which starts in January next year.

Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli announced yesterday the number of centres in this second term of the scheme is 30 per cent more than those in the current term.

More than 27,000 Singaporean children are expected to benefit from next year, compared with 20,000 in the current term.

The expansion of the partner operator scheme comes after the Government said last year it will increase the proportion of government-supported pre-school places to 80 per cent by 2025, up from 50 per cent last year.

Twenty-three partner operators running 250 centres were appointed under the first term, which began in 2016 and will come to an end next month.

Pre-schools are also allowed to apply as a consortium, so operators of different pre-schools under the same franchise, for instance, can come together to apply.

FEES

Partner operators get government funding to keep fees low, and have to adhere to the fee cap. Current operators include Busy Bees, Star Learners and Carpe Diem.

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. Both fees are not inclusive of GST.

In a release yesterday, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said the operators comprise a mix of commercial and not-for-profit types, with centres in locations all across Singapore, providing choice for parents.

Seven of the operators, like Greenland Childcare and Kinderland, are also new to the scheme. Both have seven and 14 centres that will be part of the new term.

Others that are new this time include faith-based operators like Catholic Pre-school Education (Singapore) with three centres, and Little Seeds with 11.

ECDA had evaluated the applications of 52 pre-school operators to be part of the scheme.

ECDA said in the medium term, full-day pre-school expenses should be brought down to around $300 a month, which is about the same as the cost of primary school plus after-school student care before means-tested subsidies.

Education