The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) amends the Child Development Co-savings Act (CDCA) to support active fatherhood, and children of single unwed parents.
Key amendments to the CDCA
a) Increase support for active fatherhood through additional week of Government-paid paternity leave
To encourage fathers to spend more time with their children from birth, employers and self-employed individuals, who voluntarily exercise the option to grant to employees/take a second week of paternity leave respectively, will be reimbursed by the Government for this additional week of leave granted/taken. This had been announced at the National Day Rally on 23 Aug 2015.
The amendment effects this. The second week of paternity leave may be taken on or after 24 Aug 2015, and applies to:
- children born on or after 1 Jan 2015;
- children born before 1 Jan 2015, but whose estimated delivery date (EDD) was on or after 1 Jan 2015;
- adopted children where the application to adopt is on or after 1 Jan 2015 (for child who is a Singapore citizen); or,
- adopted children whose dependant’s pass is issued on or after 1 Jan 2015 (for a child who is not a Singapore citizen).
It allows employers and self-employed to seek reimbursement from 1 Jul 2016.
The CDCA will be further amended in late 2016, to mandate the second week of paternity leave that Senior Minister of State, Mrs Josephine Teo, had announced at the National Population and Talent Division’s Committee of Supply 2016.
Extension of Child Development Co-Savings Scheme to Singaporean children of unwed parents
To enhance child outcomes, MSF announced during its Committee of Supply 2016 that children of unwed parents would be eligible for Child Development Account (CDA) benefits, including the $3,000 CDA First Step grant.
The CDCA established the Child Development Co-Savings Scheme, which allows the Government to provide financial assistance for the development of Singaporean children through a co-savings arrangement under the CDA. The scheme aims to help families defray the costs of raising children and encourage parents to save for their children’s developmental and healthcare needs.
With this amendment, the Government may provide financial assistance for the development of eligible children of unwed parents who are born from Sep 2016. This timeline takes into account the system changes needed to extend CDA benefits to children of unwed parents.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(A) Increase support for active fatherhood through additional week of Government-paid paternity leave
1. When can employers and eligible self-employed persons be allowed to claim for the extra week of paternity leave taken by eligible employees?
They can make their claims from 1 July 2016, at https://www.profamilyleave.gov.sg/.
2. Why did the Government decide to mandate this additional week of voluntary paternity leave?
Fathers play an important role in parenting. We want to encourage fathers to be more involved in child-raising. Mandating the additional week of voluntary paternity leave which will help more fathers to benefit from paternity leave and spend more time with their children.
3. The announcement of the additional week of voluntary paternity leave was made in August 2015. Why are the employers only allowed to submit their reimbursement claims in mid-2016?
Both legislative amendments and system upgrading are needed to process the voluntary paternity leave claims by employers.
The CDCA Amendment Bill is going for its second reading on 9/10 May. The system enhancements will be completed by mid-2016.
Employers may claim reimbursement once both the legislation is passed and the system enhancements are completed.
Move to enhance child outcomes through extension of Child Development Co-Savings Scheme to Singaporean children of unwed parents
1. When will Singaporean children of unwed parents be eligible for CDA Benefits?
Child Development Account (CDA) benefits, including the $3,000 CDA First Step grant will be extended to Singaporean children of unwed parents, born from the 3rd quarter of this year.
2. Why did MSF decide to review benefits to single unwed parents? What was the approach taken for the review (as to what benefits to be extended to unwed parent families)?
The review is part of the Ministry’s efforts to better support vulnerable families. The objective is to do more to support these families’ efforts to care for their children, and reduce the disadvantages that their children may face from birth.
In conducting the review, we considered three key principles. These benefits are useful in the child’s developmental or caregiving needs. They also support the unwed parent’s efforts to provide for the child. At the same time, the extension of these benefits to unwed parents does not undermine parenthood within marriage which is the prevalent social norm and one which our society values. Hence, some benefits are available only to married parents, to encourage births within marriages.
3. What benefits do unwed parents currently qualify for?
Today, Government benefits that support the growth and development of children are given to all children regardless of the marital status of their parents. Like all other children, children of unwed parents have access to social assistance, education and healthcare subsidies. They are also eligible for infant care and child care subsidies, Medisave grant for newborns and the foreign domestic worker levy concession.
In addition, all mothers, regardless of their marital status, are eligible for infant care and childcare subsidies.
Following our review, children of unwed parents born from the third quarter of this year will be eligible for CDA benefits. Unwed mothers will also be eligible for Government-paid maternity leave, from early 2017.