Centres designed to better integrate outdoor learning and play
1. Parents in Sengkang and Punggol can look forward to more quality and affordable preschool places, as five new large child care centres are set to open over the next two years. The centres will add 2,600 new child care and infant care places to these estates by 2020. This was announced today by Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, at the opening ceremony of the Skool4Kidz large child care centre at Sengkang Riverside Park.
2. Four of the centres will be located in Sengkang, providing 300 to 550 child care places each, and the centre in Punggol will provide 650 places. They will be run by ECDA-appointed Anchor Operators (AOPs) which have experience in developing and managing similar large child care centres.
3. These centres are the latest in the series of Government-funded large child care centres progressively opened since 2016 in estates with more young families, as part of the Government's efforts to ensure that every parent who needs a preschool place for their child will be able to have one. The addition of the five centres will raise the total number of large child care centres in Singapore to 14.
4. To enhance the holistic development for our children, the new centres will be designed to provide greater access to nature and outdoor spaces, and more opportunities for outdoor learning. The operators at these five sites will work with ECDA to deliver both learning spaces and curricula that allow preschoolers to engage with the community and natural environment.
5. Reiterating the Government's commitment to provide more quality and affordable preschool places to better support young families, Mr Lee said, "Even as we build new centres, we want to make sure that every preschool place creates better learning experiences. We are doing this by working with operators to design preschools, and deliver quality programmes that allow our children to play and learn outdoors more. This is important for their healthy and holistic development in the early years."
6. Details for the registration for the five new large child care centres will be provided in the first half of 2019. When ready, parents can register through ECDA's online Registration Management System, which can be accessed via www.ecda.gov.sg/Parents. They can also do so using the Moments of Life (Families) mobile application, which can be downloaded from the respective Apple and Android app stores.
EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
ANNEX A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How are large child care centres (LCCCs) different from the typical centres?
To benefit many young families residing in public housing estates, large centres are developed on state land by ECDA's Anchor Operators (AOPs), who are subject to fee caps and quality standards. These LCCCs have capacities between 300 to 1,000 places, about three to five times larger than centres typically situated at HDB void-decks. The larger space allows centres more scope to design stimulating learning environments, such as age-appropriate play areas, garden spaces, art, and teacher resource rooms, providing parents residing in the vicinity greater variety in their choice of quality, affordable preschool services.
2. Where are the LCCCs located, and how are their locations determined?
ECDA closely monitors the preschool demand in various locations, taking into consideration various factors, such as the profile of families and availability of preschools. LCCCs are located primarily in areas of high localised preschool demand, such as estates with many young families, and complement current efforts to provide preschool services. Such efforts include pre-building centres in HDB premises, commercial buildings or community facilities.
There are currently a total of nine LCCCs, of which four recently commenced operations this year. Together, they have created 5,000 preschool places in Sengkang, Punggol, Yishun, Woodlands, Jurong West and Bukit Panjang. The locations of the nine operational large child care centres and the five upcoming centres are given in Annexes B and C respectively.
3. How will LCCCs provide quality care and education?
Quality of care and education remains a key priority in the development of all child care centres. LCCCs are subject to the same regulatory requirements that ECDA has for smaller centres. These include requirements for teacher-to-children ratios, space requirements for each child, and having contingency plans in place for outbreak of child ailments and other emergencies.
These centres are also run by ECDA's AOPs who are familiar with operating larger centres, and are well-versed in ensuring the safety and upkeep of the centres so that children can benefit from these dedicated facilities.
4. How will the new LCCCs facilitate outdoor learning?
The new centres will place an emphasis on outdoor learning in both their design and curricula. ECDA will work with operators of these preschool sites to identify opportunities where they can create seamless access to playgrounds, nearby green spaces and shared communal facilities such as community gardens. Operators will also be encouraged to incorporate the outdoors into their curriculum and lesson plans. These efforts aim to improve the well-being of the children, keeping them fit and healthy while providing opportunities to pick up skills necessary for holistic development. Outdoor play and exposure also aims to cultivate in them curiosity for the environment and care for the community from a young age.
5. How have parents' reactions been to the LCCCs?
Our existing large centres have been well received by parents and enjoy good enrolment. Parents appreciate the diverse facilities being offered, which may include dedicated areas for water play, sand play, construction, art and outdoor play. Although these centres typically enrol more children, measures have been taken to ensure that they continue to provide a child-friendly and safe environment, including steps to minimise any spread of infectious diseases.