19 February 2018
Mr Darryl David
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what are the criteria used to determine childcare and preschool subsidies; and (b) when were these criteria last reviewed.
1. Providing affordable and quality preschool services for parents is a key priority for the Government. In reviewing the affordability of preschools for families, we take into account fee levels in the preschool sector; household needs and incomes; as well as various government schemes, apart from direct subsidies, which contribute to the affordability of preschool.
2. To defray the cost of child care for families, the Government provides a universal Basic Subsidy of $150 per month, or $300 per month for working mothers. These are available for all Singapore citizen children.
3. In 2013, the Government reviewed child care subsidies to better support low- to middle-income families. An Additional Subsidy was introduced to support working mothers whose monthly household income is $7,500 and below, or per capita income is $1,875 and below. Lower-income families and larger families receive more subsidy. Together with the Basic Subsidy, a low-income family can pay as little as a few dollars a month for preschool.
4. In 2015, we also enhanced the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) to benefit more families whose children are enrolled in kindergartens run by the Anchor Operators or by the Ministry of Education. Kindergartens offer shorter focused education programmes and are generally more affordable, with a median fee of $170 today. Families with monthly household income of $6,000 and below, or per capita income is $1,500 and below, can benefit from KiFAS.
5. Apart from these subsidies, the Government provides support to defray the costs of childraising. These include the Baby Bonus Cash Gift of $8,000 to $10,000 per child, and the Child Development Account to which the Government contributes up to $6,000 to $18,000 per child (depending on the child's birth order and co-savings by parents). Parents can tap on these measures to pay for the needs of their child, including healthcare and preschool.
6. In addition, we will continue to make good quality preschool affordable through MOE Kindergartens as well as preschools under the Anchor Operator (AOP) and Partner Operator (POP) schemes. Fees that preschools under the AOP and POP schemes can charge are subject to fee caps, so they remain affordable. For example, the fees at AOPs are capped at $720 for full-day child care and $160 for kindergartens, before GST. A family with a monthly household income of $2,500 or less with a child enrolled in an AOP centre can pay as little as $3 for full-day child care and $1 for kindergarten services per month, after subsidies. These government-run and supported preschools now make up almost half of the market, from just one-third of the market five years ago, and have helped to stabilise preschool fees. These operators are projected to make up two-thirds of the market by 2023.
7. Through these series of measures, we seek to keep preschool services affordable, especially to middle and lower income households. We will continue to review our policies to ensure that quality preschool remains affordable for families.