Mr Ang Hin Kee
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development:
(a) how many small and medium-sized kindergartens and childcare operators have ceased operations since 2015; and
(b) how does the Ministry support small and medium-sized operators to remain viable.
Fewer than 30 pre-schools, constituting about 2% of the 1,700 pre-schools in Singapore, ceased operations in 2015. While some of these were standalone pre-schools, there were also those part of a larger group.
The Government’s priority is to provide good quality, accessible and affordable early childhood services, so as to ensure a good start for every child. To achieve this, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has implemented a range of initiatives to support operators of different sizes.
First, we have the Anchor Operator and Partner Operator schemes to support selected larger and smaller pre-school operators respectively. Besides keeping their fees to the specified caps, these operators are also supported to improve the quality of their pre-schools. We have also seen smaller operators coming together to achieve greater economies of scale and tap on government support under the Partner Operator Scheme.
Second, we have a number of broad-based initiatives to help all operators develop and attract more educators to the sector. These include the new Skills Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education, the Professional Development Programme, and ECDA’s Scholarships and Training Awards. In addition, the Government also provides funding support for operators to adopt smart solutions, such as for attendance-taking and temperature-taking, to support educators in their work and to raise sector productivity.
Third, support schemes are available to help operators defray costs and keep their fees affordable. These include the Community and Sports Facilities Scheme under the Urban Redevelopment Authority, as well as the Portable Rental Subsidies and the Workplace Child Care Centre Scheme under ECDA. Operators can receive centre development grants, furnishing and equipment grants, or rental cost subsidies if they meet affordability and quality requirements.
Finally, small and medium-sized operators can also tap on the Capability Development Grant, Innovation and Capability Voucher and other programmes offered by SPRING Singapore. Operators can make use of these schemes to build capabilities via staff training, technology adoption or by defraying the cost of consultancy projects in the areas of human resources, financial management, innovation and productivity.