Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin
Nominated Member of Parliament
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) how does the Ministry ensure that single mothers who earn enough to be disqualified from low-income benefits are given support to continue working to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency;
(b) whether maternity leave for single mothers can be extended from 8 weeks to 16 weeks as available to married mothers so that all Singaporean children benefit from equal foundational care; and
(c) what measures does the Ministry take to ensure that
(i) all handicapped Singaporean children receive equivalent help including those with single mothers who will not benefit from Handicapped Child Relief, Working Mother's Child Relief, and Grandparent Caregiver Relief; and
(ii) all Singaporean children are given an equivalent head start since those with single mothers do not benefit from the Child Development Account and Baby Bonus.
Education and healthcare support is important to the growth and development of young children. Working mothers also need help in managing their care-giving responsibilities over their young children. The Government recognises these needs, and provides a range of support in these areas, regardless of the marital status of the children’s parents.
For example, all mothers, regardless of whether they are married, are eligible for infantcare and childcare subsidies. The foreign domestic worker levy concession is also extended to all parents of children aged below 12, including single mothers. These help to keep care for young children affordable and enable mothers to continue to work to achieve self sufficiency. In addition, all working mothers are eligible for child care leave before the child turns 7 years old, and extended child care leave when the child is 7 to 12 years old.
To give all our children a good head start, Government funded education programmes and support in our pre-schools, early intervention centres, mainstream schools and special education schools are extended to all children. A higher level of assistance is provided to children from lower income families or those who have developmental or special needs. Again, such support is provided independent of the marital status of their parents.
There are some benefits that single mothers do not currently benefit from, such as 8 additional weeks of paid maternity leave and tax incentives. These additional benefits are given to encourage and support parenthood within the context of marriage. This is the prevailing societal norm in Singapore, and one which we seek to reflect and preserve.