The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has served notice to revoke the status of Approved Person (AP) 1 of all the 11 Sweetlands Childcare centres yesterday. We will revoke the AP status of Mdm Chan Chew Shia and Mr Ho Boon Hong on 21 October 2015.
On 29 July 2015, the Ministry served notices of intention to revoke the status of AP, Mdm Chan Chew Shia and Mr Ho Boon Hong, of Sweetlands Childcare centres. This was in view of a recent MSF audit which revealed (among other things) that the APs of Sweetlands centres have made unauthorised withdrawals from the Child Development Accounts (CDAs) of several children. We have earlier referred the matter to the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force.
The APs were earlier given 28 days2 to provide satisfactory reasons to the Ministry on why their status of AP should not be revoked. They have since submitted their reasons for the unauthorised withdrawals. MSF had assessed and given due consideration to the reasons provided, and concluded that we have reasonable grounds to suspect that the APs have breached the Child Development Co-Savings Regulations. In view of this, we will proceed to revoke the status of AP.
With the revocation of the status of AP, children enrolled with the centres after 20 October 2015 will not be able to use their CDAs to pay for the child care fees. Sweetlands Childcare centres are required to apply for a suitable person as a new AP. This is to ensure proper governance in the administration of CDA withdrawals before parents of newly enrolled children can start to use CDAs for fees payment. Meanwhile, the Ministry has appointed a temporary AP (a Ministry staff) as of 21 October 2015 to facilitate the CDA withdrawals for the children who are already enrolled in the centre on or before 20 October 2015 so as to minimise disruptions as well as to ensure that the CDA withdrawals are valid. These are put in place to safeguard the children’s CDA.
The revocation of the status of AP will not affect the child care licenses of the Sweetlands Childcare centres. This means that all centres will continue to operate, as there are no issues in terms of the safety or well-being of the children; and eligible parents can still receive child care subsidies.
Background on Case
The 11 Sweetlands Childcare centres are licensed and run by private operators. 10 of the 11 Sweetlands centres are run by Mdm Chan Chew Shia, the remaining centre is run by Mr Ho Boon Hong, Mdm Chan’s husband. Singapore Citizen children attending the centres qualify for government child care subsidies. As the Sweetlands centres are still AIs under the Baby Bonus Scheme, the centres are allowed to deduct monies from the CDAs of children for the payment of child care and related fees.
1 An Approved Person is the authorised person of a Baby Bonus Approved Institution (AI) to make deduction from the Child Development Accounts (CDAs) for the payment of fees.
2 The APs were originally given 14 days to provide the reasons. We had extended another 14 days for them to do so.
For enquiries on the Baby Bonus Scheme:
For enquiries on the Child Care Subsidy Scheme:
Annex A – Information on the CDA
Annex B – Frequently Asked Questions