Mr Desmond Choo
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development:
(a) whether the number of student care places are sufficient currently; and
(b) whether the Ministry will consider subsidising working families up to the 50th percentile household income level.
The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) recognises that Student Care Centres (SCCs) are an important care option for working parents who need after-school care support for their school-going children between 7 to 14 years old.
Today, there are more than 400 SCCs in schools and the community which are registered with MSF to administer student care fee subsidies. These SCCs provide more than 30,000 places, which is an increase of around 30% from the 23,000 places in 2013. Overall, there are enough student care places in the sector to meet demand, with most registered SCCs reporting vacancies. There could be higher demand in some locations due to the demographics of the area.
MSF and the Ministry of Education (MOE) will continue to monitor the demand for SCC places in schools and the community and improve the accessibility of SCCs. MOE has announced plans to set up an SCC in every Primary School by 2020, and has committed to expand the capacity of existing school-based SCCs at a pace that does not compromise quality.
MSF regularly reviews student care fee subsidies to ensure that student care remains affordable. In January this year, we raised the monthly household income criteria from $3,500 to $4,000, and the monthly Per Capita Income from $875 to $1,000, to allow more families to receive the subsidies. We have also increased the amount of subsidies per month by up to $30. With the subsidies, families at the lowest income tier can pay as little as $5 per month for the fees. As the changes were implemented recently, MSF will assess the need for further enhancements in future reviews.