The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will introduce new initiatives to improve the affordability and quality of child care services for parents, support the career progression of more early childhood (EC) professionals, and raise the overall quality of the EC sector.
The Partner Operator (POP) scheme will provide support to eligible child care operators to keep fees affordable, build capabilities to raise quality, and improve career prospects for their professionals. Operators will receive funding to:
a. Reduce their current fees, keep to a fee cap of about $800 for full-day child care services, and ensure that future fee increases are kept affordable for parents.
b. Invest in improving centre quality through attaining certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK), and in strengthening corporate capabilities.
c. Enhance continuing professional development and career progression opportunities for their centre leaders, teachers and educarers.
The POP scheme will complement the existing Anchor Operator (AOP) scheme. AOPs and POPs are expected to serve some 50% of pre-school children by 2020.
Operators who currently offer about 300 child care places or more are invited to submit an expression of interest to participate in the scheme (https://www.ecda.gov.sg/pages/POP.aspx). Expressions of interest from groups of smaller operators may be considered. ECDA is expected to shortlist, evaluate, and appoint operators to the scheme by the end of this year.
The Professional Development Programme (PDP) aims to deepen EC professionals’ skills to take on larger responsibilities and further develop their careers. The PDP is a structured three-year upgrading programme for EC professionals in kindergartens and child care centres with about three years of experience, and who have been identified by their employers for their potential to take on larger job roles. A range of support will be offered by ECDA, including new certifiable courses, and cash incentives at key milestones.
The PDP will be a partnership between operators, teachers and ECDA, and further consultations will be held over the coming months. More details will be released later this year. It will be progressively implemented from the first quarter of 2016.
The proposed Early Childhood Development Centres Act (ECDCA) aims to raise the overall quality of early childhood care and education through a harmonised regulatory framework for kindergartens and child care centres. Operators and EC professionals will benefit from more consistent requirements, including the registration of programme staff. Parents will have greater assurance of the quality and professionalism of the EC sector with the enhancements to ECDA’s regulatory powers and baseline quality standards.
ECDA will consult the sector before the planned introduction of the ECDCA in the second half of the year.