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Call for applications for new term of childcare Partner Operator scheme

Type: Press Releases

Topic(s): Children & Families

1. At the National Day Rally 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government would continue to increase government-supported preschool places to improve families' access to affordable and quality preschools. By around 2025, 80 per cent of preschoolers can have a place in a government-supported preschool, up from about 50 per cent today.

Expansion and Enhancement of the POP Scheme

2. As part of efforts to expand the provision of government-supported places, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will extend the Partner Operator (POP) scheme with a new call for applications from childcare operators. The POP scheme was introduced in 2016 and currently has 23 POP operators running 250 childcare centres, which together benefit more than 20,000 Singapore Citizen (SC) children. Under the new term, ECDA seeks to appoint more centres onto the POP scheme.

3. Under its new term, the POP scheme will provide funding support to appointed childcare centres to further improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of their childcare and infant care services. Appointed POP centres will be required to meet the following enhanced requirements

a. Reduce fees to within the revised fee caps for SC children, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents. To further enhance affordability of preschools, the fee caps for POP centres will be lowered in the new term to $760 and $1,330 per month for full-day childcare and infant care services respectively, compared to existing corresponding fee caps of $800 and $1,400 per month.

b. Invest in improving centre quality through efforts such as attaining certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK), and strengthening corporate capabilities.

c. Support continuing professional development and sector attraction for centre leaders, teachers and educarers.

4. Partner Operators will be selected through an open and competitive process. Applicants will need to demonstrate good track record in delivering quality preschool services; be financially stable and sustainable in their operations; and ensure their centres are publicly accessible to children of all races, languages and religions. Applicants will also need to be committed to professional development and enhancing organisational excellence capabilities. Operators which currently offer 300 or more childcare and/or infant care places are invited to submit an Expression of Interest to participate in the scheme. Registered Key Appointment Holders should email Sector_Funding@ecda.gov.sg with their centre codes for information on how to submit an Expression of Interest. Existing Partner Operators will also have to express their interest if they wish to be considered for the new term. Interested operators are advised to email their interest early to ensure they have sufficient time to prepare their applications before the submission deadline, which is 31 January 2020 (Fri), 5pm. Successful applicants will be appointed onto the scheme for a new five-year term starting from January 2021.

More Affordable Preschool Services

5. As the capacity of government-supported preschools grows over the medium term, we aim to further lower fee caps at government-supported preschools so that working families with a child in full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees, which currently total around $300 per month. This is before means-tested preschool subsidies are applied. In the immediate term, with the enhanced preschool subsidies taking effect from January 2020, the majority of parents will pay less for preschool.

6. The Government is committed to improving access to affordable and quality preschool services. Overall, Government's annual spending on the early childhood sector is expected to more than double over the next few years, from around $1 billion in 2018.

To apply, registered Key Appointment Holders should email Sector_Funding@ecda.gov.sg with your centre codes for information on how to submit an Expression of Interest. Existing Partner Operators will also have to express their interest if they wish to be considered for the new term.

ECDA will acknowledge receipt of the email within 3 working days.

You are advised to email ECDA early to give sufficient time to prepare your application and supporting documents before the submission deadline on 31 Jan 2020, 5pm.