Mr Edward Chia Bing Hui asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the number of infant care applications and the successful placement rates from January to December 2021; (b) what is the estimated projection of infant care applications for 2022 and whether there is adequate capacity; and (c) what are the Ministry’s plans on infant care capacity.
1. As preschools manage their own processes for child and infant care enrolment into their centres, ECDA does not track their application and placement rates. Instead, ECDA tracks preschool interest registered by parents via the Preschool Search Portal (PSP) launched in 2019. Parents may register interest in as many as 10 preschools at the same time on the PSP. While we strongly encourage all parents to use the PSP, this is voluntary, and some parents may also directly contact their chosen preschools. In 2021, 830 parents of unenrolled infants registered interest for an infant care place via the PSP. This constituted 1% of all families with infants in Singapore.
2. Nationally, about 77% of infant care capacity was taken up by enrolled children in 2021. While the overall situation shows sufficient supply, there remain localised areas with waitlists. This could be due to several factors, such as parents preferring specific preschools or wanting preschool places close to their homes, and time needed for preschools to ramp up their infant care operations. While we are building new preschools closer to families, it is not always possible for families to have a preschool at the same block or within a few blocks of their homes.
3. Providing access to quality, affordable infant and child care remains a key priority for the Government. We will continue to increase capacity where needed to meet demand for early childhood services. By the end of 2022, ECDA will develop an additional 1,000 infant care places - offered largely by Anchor Operators, and mainly in Planning Areas with upcoming HDB developments for new families. This does not include additional infant care places which may be developed by other preschool operators to meet local demand.