Er Dr Lee Bee Wah
MP for Nee Soon GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what are the plans to provide student care centres (SCC) in Yishun South including pre-school centres; (b) what are the minimum criteria for private SCCs' operations to ensure that they provide acceptable standards of service; and (c) how often does the Ministry visit these centres to ensure compliance.
Child care centres provide full-day and half-day care programmes to children below the age of 7, while student care centres (SCCs) provide care and supervision to school-going children from 7 to 14 years old.
At the preschool level, there are 67 child care centres in Yishun planning area. About a third are within the existing Nee Soon South ward at Yishun South. To ensure continued access to quality, affordable preschools, the Government will provide about 2,000 more government-supported places in Yishun planning area over the next few years.
For student care, there are four SCCs registered with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to administer the Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) scheme in Nee Soon South ward. Two of them are located in primary schools and the other two in the community. Together, these four centres have enrolled about 400 students, with sufficient capacity to meet demand. In recent years, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has steadily increased the number of school-based SCCs. In particular, for Nee Soon South, Naval Base Primary School has had an SCC since 2007 and Peiying Primary School’s SCC was set up in 2019 to improve accessibility of SCCs. Both centres still have vacancies. MSF and MOE will continue to monitor the demand for SCC places and expand capacity where there is demand.
SCCs that wish to administer SCFA are required to register with MSF. MSF requires registered SCCs, including centres operated by private entities, to meet stipulated standards. These include standards on, among other things, providing a clean and safe physical environment with appropriately sized activity areas, observing good safety, health and hygiene practices, proper supervision of students, and a structured daily programme that supports learning and development. For example, SCC premises should have at least three square metres of space per student, and at least one SCC staff who is trained in first aid should be present at all times during opening hours.
MSF conducts audits on registered SCCs, which may include surprise checks, at least once every two years to ensure compliance with the above requirements. More frequent checks may be conducted as needed, for example to look into feedback and complaints received, and where the SCC has weaknesses identified in previous audits. SCCs that do not meet requirements and fail to rectify the areas of improvement within the stipulated timeline can have their SCFA administrator status revoked.