Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan
MP for West Coast GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) how many needy families currently pay less than $10 and $5 per child respectively for their full-day childcare services; and (b) what are the qualifying conditions to receive this comprehensive subsidy.
1 Preschool expenses are a function of fees, less subsidies and financial assistance (if applicable). The Government is committed to ensure the affordability of preschools, especially for low-income families, through the following measures.
2 First, the Government supports Anchor Operators and Partner Operators so that they can keep their fees within fee caps and fulfil quality targets. Together with MOE Kindergartens, these government-supported operators make up slightly over half of preschool places today. This helps to keep overall industry median fees in check.
3 Second, the Government provides subsidies to families with Singaporean citizen children in all childcare centres. A universal Basic Subsidy is provided to all families regardless of income. Mothers can qualify for higher Basic Subsidy if they are working at least 56 hours per month, or around 2 days per week. This includes part-time and freelance work. To further support low- and middle-income working families, we also provide a means-tested Additional Subsidy.
4 Where there are good reasons, non-working mothers may qualify for higher working mother subsidies under Special Approval. For example, if the non-working mother is undergoing training, pregnant, medically unfit to work, or providing full-time care for a younger child aged 24 months and below, or a sick or special needs family member. Non-working mothers looking for employment may also be considered. Applications under Special Approval will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
5 Third, financial assistance is also provided to low-income families if they need help paying the monthly childcare fees even after the childcare subsidies. They can also apply for a one-time grant to cover the initial costs of enrolling their child in the centre. To be eligible, the child should be enrolled in an affordable childcare centre. Applications for financial assistance will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
6 Taking the Government’s efforts together, around 4,100 families currently pay $10 and less per month for full-day childcare, of which around 70% or around 2,900 families pay $5 and less. This remaining amount can be fully covered by the $3,000 Child Development Account (CDA) First Step grant provided by Government.
7 In August 2019, the Government announced further measures to provide higher subsidies for more families from January 2020, to expand the share of government-supported preschools to 80% by around 2025, and to lower fee caps for full-day childcare in the medium term. These measures underscore the Government’s commitment to ensure preschool affordability for all Singaporeans, with the greatest level of support given to low-income families so that every child can have a good start in life.