Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing announced the opening of the call for proposals for new Pre-School Anchor Operators today.
The Anchor Operator scheme for kindergarten and child care operators was first introduced in 2009. It provides funding support to eligible operators to scale up the provision of good quality and affordable early childhood care and education services for the mass market.
To further expand the provision of quality and affordable pre-school places for the mass market in Singapore, the Government will be selecting a few additional Anchor Operators that are committed to serving the needs of children and families, including those from lower income or disadvantaged backgrounds.
Anchor Operators must demonstrate the ability to provide good quality developmental programmes for young children, as well as professional development and career advancement opportunities for early childhood educators. They must also have good governance processes, and be accountable for the assistance received under the scheme.
The eligibility criteria for the scheme have been reviewed to allow more potential operators to be considered. With the revised criteria, all interested pre-school operators that meet the eligibility criteria can submit proposals. The key eligibility criteria are:
The Proposer must be a current operator of child care centres and/or kindergartens, with at least 10 centres or providing 1,000 pre-school places, and have a good track record of providing quality early childhood services.
The Proposer must demonstrate strong regulatory compliance and governance, including having or establishing an independent governing body.
The Proposer must be legally and financially liable for all operations under the Anchor Operator scheme.
To ensure financial stability and sustainability, the Proposer must be prepared to provide and maintain a financial guarantee equivalent to 6 months of operating costs, or $10m, whichever is lower.
The full eligibility criteria are at Annex A.
Evaluation and Terms & Conditions
Proposals from bidders that meet the eligibility criteria will be evaluated based on the Proposer’s track record, quality of proposed programmes, financial stability and governance, and cost to users and Government. The Government will select operators that meet all eligibility criteria fully, and whose proposals are best able to meet the evaluation criteria. The evaluation criteria are at Annex B.
Eventual Anchor Operators selected must comply with the requirements of the scheme, such as meeting quality KPIs, and obtaining ECDA’s approval for their fees. They will be subject to audit and reporting requirements, and have their performance monitored closely by ECDA.
Submission of Proposals
Operators interested to submit proposals may collect the Call for Proposal documents from ECDA at 510 Thomson Road, #13-00, SLF Building, from 28 June 2013 to 3 July 2013. Interested Proposers must submit a comprehensive proposal detailing their plans to run Anchor Operator centres.
Support to non-Anchor Operators to sustain quality and affordable programmes
In addition to the Anchor Operator scheme, the Government will continue to support the whole early childhood sector, to ensure that there are a variety of good quality centres to meet the different needs of children and parents. In this regard, ECDA is developing a suite of assistance schemes for non-Anchor Operators, to help sustain the quality and affordability of their programmes, and to meet the overall demand for early childhood services.
The schemes are envisaged to cover a range of areas, including support to improve quality of programmes while maintaining affordable fees, and infrastructure assistance to set up new centres in areas of demand. More details on these schemes for non-Anchor Operators will be provided at a later date.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
27 June 2013
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR PRE-SCHOOL ANCHOR OPERATOR SCHEME
1. The Proposer must demonstrate that it meets the following criteria:
(a) Be a current operator1 of licensed child care centres and/or registered kindergartens that currently operates at least 10 child care centres/kindergartens or provides at least 1,000 kindergarten, child care or infant care places2.
(b) Have a good track record of providing quality early childhood care and education services. The Proposer will have to submit its proposed programmes/curriculum to ECDA for approval.
(c) Demonstrate that it is presently directly responsible for ensuring and monitoring the quality of programmes and teacher development in its current childcare centres and kindergartens.
i) If the Proposer is currently not able to meet the requirement set out in clause (c) above, the Proposer must provide plans to establish this responsibility within 6 months of being awarded the AOP status.
(d) The Proposer must be a:
i) Society registered with the Registrar of Societies, or a Co-operative Society registered with the Registry of Co-operative Societies;
ii) Charity or Institution of A Public Character (IPC) registered with the Commissioner of Charities; or
iii) A corporation registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).
(e) The Proposer must have a separate legal entity that is financially and legally liable for all operations under the AOP scheme. The audited financial statements for this entity will need to be provided to ECDA.
i) If the Proposer has not yet established a separate legal entity, it must provide a detailed plan, including the timelines for establishing and registering the legal entity and establishing its ability to provide separate financial records for this entity.
(f) Provide a financial guarantee equivalent to 6 months of operating costs for the number of proposed child care centres/kindergartens under the AOP scheme for the first year of operations, or $10 million, whichever is lower.
i) For each subsequent year, the selected AOP will have to provide a financial guarantee equivalent to 6 months of operating costs for the projected number of proposed child care centres/kindergartens the selected AOP will be operating at the end of that year.
ii) The financial guarantee must be provided in the form of a bank guarantee or insurance performance bond. Where the Proposer is unable to provide a bank guarantee or insurance performance bond, the Proposer may propose a financial guarantee of an equivalent value. However, the Government reserves the right to determine the sufficiency and validity of this guarantee.
(g) Strong track record for regulatory compliance and proper governance processes, including the presence of a governing body. The details of members of the governing body should be provided to ECDA for agreement and should preferably comprise:
i) A majority of Singaporean members to ensure services provided remain relevant to Singaporean families;
ii) A third of independent members;
iii) A Chairperson with relevant experience in serving on boards; and
iv) Member(s) with relevant professional experience and early childhood care and education experience.
v) If the Proposer does not currently have a governing body, it must provide plans to establish a governing body, together with the proposed membership, within 6 months of being awarded the AOP status.
(h) Strong track record for financial stability.
2. The criteria stated in 1(d) to (h) above must be complied with by the selected Proposer for the entire duration for the Contract and/or the duration of the selected Proposer’s status as AOP.
The Proposer’s proposal shall be evaluated and considered in accordance with the following criteria:
1. Extent of compliance with the components of the Call for Proposals documents3;
2. The Proposer should demonstrate understanding of the Requirement Specifications,
and how the Proposer is able to meet the Requirement Specifications;
3. Track record for providing quality early childhood care and education services;
4. Track record for governance and regulatory compliance;
5. Track record for financial stability;
6. Quality of proposed programmes and services;
7. Total proposed grant amounts requested from the Government;
8. Proposed fee schedules for services; and
9. Proposed number of places/centres to be provided.
1 If a consortium is formed for the purpose of submitting a proposal under this Call for Proposals, the Lead Member of the Consortium must have met the eligibility criteria in 4.1(a).
2 The Proposer may also include new child care centres and the capacity from these new centres, if these centres have received pre-licensing approval from ECDA and will commence operations by the end of 2013.
3 Note: non-compliance with these requirements may exclude the Proposal from consideration.