Staff-child ratios in childcare and infant care
Ms Lee Li Lian
MP for Punggol East SMC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development
(a) what is the status of the review of staff-child ratios in childcare and infant care centres; and
(b) what are the plans to reduce the current one staff-five children (1:5) ratio in these centres in light of the recent announcement to create 20,000 more childcare places by 2017.
Staff-child ratios are one of several means to ensure the safety, well-being and development of children in child care centres and kindergartens. The ratios range from 1 educarer to 5 infants, to 1 teacher to 25 kindergarten-age children. The ratios are lower for younger children as they require closer supervision.
In reviewing the staff-child ratios, we have to strike a balance between ensuring good quality care and education for our children, with the manpower needed to expand child care capacity and the impact on fees that will be borne by parents.
In January 2012, we provided centres flexibility to lower their staff-child ratios further by employing trained para-personnel to assist the main teachers with routine care activities. This has allowed centres to raise capacity while lowering overall staff-child ratios. More recently, we also implemented measures to attract and retain manpower in the early childhood sector, such as strengthening the training pipeline for the Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education at the polytechnics, as well as enhancing the ECDA Training Award and Scholarships.
Apart from staff-child ratios, the capability of early childhood personnel is equally important. The qualification requirements for teachers were raised in 2009. ECDA is also providing them with more opportunities to upgrade their skills, and be recognised for their competencies. This will be achieved through the Continuing Professional Development Masterplan that will be implemented later this year.