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POSITIVE RESPONSE FROM OVER 50 CHILDCARE OPERATORS FOR NEW TERM OF PARTNER OPERATOR SCHEME

  1. 1. As part of efforts to expand the provision of government-supported preschool places, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in November 2019 launched a new call for applications from childcare operators for the new term of the Partner Operator (POP) scheme. 

    2. Under the new term, ECDA seeks to appoint more centres onto the POP scheme. ECDA will provide funding support to appointed childcare centres to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of their childcare and infant care services. Appointed POP centres will be required to meet the following enhanced requirements: 

    a. Reduce fees to within the revised fee caps for Singapore Citizen (SC) children, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents. To further enhance affordability of preschools, the fee caps for POP centres will be lowered in the new term to $760  and $1,330 per month for full-day childcare and infant care services respectively, compared to existing corresponding fee caps of $800 and $1,400 per month. 

    b. Invest in improving centre quality through efforts such as attaining certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK), and strengthening corporate capabilities. 

    c. Support continuing professional development and sector attraction/retention efforts for centre leaders, teachers and educarers. 

    Positive Response from the Preschool Sector

    3. ECDA closed the application process on 31 Jan 2020 (Friday) and received 52 applications from operators to join the next term of the POP scheme. This is more than double the number of operators currently appointed on the existing POP term. Existing POP operators run 250 childcare centres and benefit more than 20,000 SC children. Applications were received from a mix of both commercial and not-for-profit operators, as well as operators on the existing POP term.  

    4. “We are heartened by the positive response from childcare operators. As we review the applications carefully, we hope to be able to increase the number of government-supported preschools so that we can continue to assure families of quality, affordable and accessible preschools,” said Ms Jamie Ang, Chief Executive of ECDA. 
     
    5. The new POP term provides an opportunity for private and not-for-profit centres to enter the government-supported sector. Successful applicants will be appointed onto the scheme for a new five-year term starting from January 2021.

    Enhancing Preschool Affordability 

    6. As the capacity of government-supported preschools grows over the medium term, ECDA aims to further lower fee caps at government-supported preschools 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, which currently total around $300 per month. This is before means-tested preschool subsidies are applied. 

    7. This builds on recent preschool subsidy enhancements. From 1 January 2020, more families now pay less for preschool, as the income ceiling for childcare and infant care Additional Subsidy was raised from $7,500 a month to $12,000 a month. Subsidy amounts were also increased across all eligible income tiers. More low-income families are paying $3 per month for full-day childcare at preschools operated by Anchor Operators, or $1 per month at kindergartens operated by Anchor Operators or the Ministry of Education. 

    8. The Government is committed to improving access to affordable and quality preschool services. Overall, 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. 
     
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