Mr Gan Thiam Poh
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC
To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the Development (a) what is the current number of Singaporeans who have been provided with childcare/pre-school and after-school care subsidies respectively, broken down by (i) income group (ii) amount of subsidy and (iii) the after-subsidy fee they are paying; (b) whether the Ministry will extend the subsidies to non-working mothers who look after other elder children in the family; and (c) whether the Ministry will review the subsidies given by ECDA centres in providing childcare/pre-school and after-school care and also consider eliminating means testing so that all parents pay a uniform fee.
1 All families with Singaporean children enrolled in childcare programmes receive a universal Basic Subsidy. In addition, working mothers with a monthly household income of $12,000 or below are eligible for a means-tested Additional Subsidy, with lower-income families receiving higher subsidies.
2 Families with Singaporean children enrolled in kindergartens run by Anchor Operators and MOE and whose monthly household income is $12,000 or below are eligible for a means-tested subsidy under the
3 Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS). Larger families can choose to have their household income assessed on a per capita basis, which may enable them to qualify for a higher tier of the Additional Subsidy or KiFAS.
4 Today, 103,400 Singaporean children are enrolled in full-day childcare. Of these,
a. All receive a Basic Subsidy each month.
b. 61,500 children, or 6 in 10, receive an Additional Subsidy each month, as their families have monthly household income of $12,000 or below. For this group, the median total subsidy is $560, and the median nett fee after subsidy is $210.
c. 9,900 children, or 1 in 10, receive the highest tier of the Additional Subsidy, as they are from families with monthly household income of $3,000 and below. For this group, the median total subsidy is $767, and the median nett fee is $3.
5 For kindergarten, 18,800 Singaporean children are enrolled in Anchor Operator- and MOE-run kindergartens. Of these,
a. 12,000 children, or over 6 in 10, receive KiFAS each month, as their families have monthly household income of $12,000 or below. For this group, the median subsidy is $156, and the median nett fee after subsidy is $15.
b. 4,300 children, or 2 in 10, receive the highest tier of the KiFAS subsidy, as their families have monthly household income of $3,000 or below. For this group, the median subsidy is $170, and the nett fee is $1.
6 The Member asked if we could extend subsidies to non-working mothers taking care of older children in the family.
a. Non-working mothers who need childcare due to certain circumstances, such as those who are looking for employment or are caring for a younger child (aged 24 months and below), a special needs child or a sick family member, can apply for the same subsidies as working mothers under Special Approval.
b. From August 2020, families under HDB’s Public Rental Scheme and MSF’s ComCare schemes automatically qualify for maximum preschool subsidies, regardless of the mother’s working status.
c. Non-working mothers may also consider enrolling their children in half-day kindergarten programmes, which are often
more affordable than full-day childcare programmes. KiFAS is available at kindergartens run by Anchor Operators and MOE, and does not depend on the mother’s working status.
7 For student care, student care centres provide care and supervision to school-going children from 7 to 14 years old. To ensure that student care remains affordable, MSF provides children from lower-income families with monthly subsidies for student care fees under the Student Care Fee Assistance (SCFA) scheme. These subsidies are available for all eligible families with monthly household income of $4,500 or below or per capita income of $1,125 or below, including those with non-working parents who are looking for work, on medical leave, or with certified full- time caregiver duties for a dependant and so on.
8 Around 36,000 children are enrolled in MSF-registered student care centres today, of which 6,600 Singaporean children are SCFA beneficiaries. Of the 6,600 children,
a. The median SCFA subsidy is $243, and the median nett fee after subsidy is $30.
b. 1,800 children, or 3 in 10, receive the highest tier of the SCFA subsidy, as their families have monthly household income of $1,500 and below. The median SCFA subsidy is $275 and the median nett fee after subsidy is $5. 35% of these 1,800 children have zero household income.
9 The Member also asked if we could eliminate means-testing so that families can pay a uniform fee for preschool and student care. Means-testing allows the Government to use fiscal resources more effectively, and to extend more support to families with greater needs. In January 2020, we raised the household income ceiling for the Childcare Additional
Subsidy and KiFAS to $12,000 per month, up from $7,500 and $6,000 respectively, to support more families with preschool expenses. We also increased the subsidy amounts for each eligible tier, by up to $240 per month for the Additional Subsidy.
10 Similarly, for student care, we recently enhanced the SCFA scheme to strengthen support for lower-income families. In July 2020, the monthly household income ceiling was raised from $4,000 to $4,500 and the per capita income ceiling was raised from $1,000 to $1,125, allowing more families to qualify for subsidies. The quanta for means-tested SCFA subsidies have also been increased, such that eligible families can receive up to $60 more in subsidies each month.
11 We will monitor the impact of the enhancements and review these schemes when necessary to ensure the affordability of preschool and student care, especially for lower-income families. For preschool, we aim to lower fee caps for full-day childcare at government-supported preschools over the medium term to make preschool even more affordable for all families, starting with Partner Operator preschools in January 2021.