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MSF Committee of Supply 2024: Supporting Parents to Provide Every Child a Good Start in Life

Type: Fact Sheets

Topic(s): Committee of Supply, Children & Families, Disability Services, Financial Assistance & Social Support

Singaporeans expressed their Forward SG aspirations of a good place to start, grow and nurture families. The Ministry of Social & Family Development announced more measures to build a Singapore Made for Families.

Enhancing access to affordable and quality preschools

2.          The Government is committed to improve access to affordable and quality preschools and increase the number of government-supported preschool places. 80% of preschoolers can have a place in a government-supported preschool by around 2025, up from over 65% today. From 2025 to 2030, the Government will continue to ensure that government-supported preschools can cater to 80% of preschoolers.

3.          The Government will make preschools more affordable by lowering fee caps for Singapore Citizen children at preschools under the Anchor Operator (AOP) and Partner Operator (POP) schemes. Around 95,000 children will benefit.

a.         In 2025, full-day childcare fee caps for AOP and POP centres will be lowered by $40, to $640 and $680 (excluding GST) per month respectively.

b.         Existing basic and means-tested subsidies will further reduce the out-of-pocket expenses paid by most families to between $3 to $441. More details are at Annex A.

c.         In 2026, these fee caps will be lowered further, such that dual-income families with a child in AOP full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school and student care fees. The 2026 fee caps will be announced next year.

New childminding pilot for infants

4.          In the Forward SG conversations, managing work and family commitments were a key concern, especially during the child’s early years. The Government will provide stronger caregiving support for parents of infants. In addition to considering how paid parental leave can be further increased and increasing the number of centre-based infant care places, the Government will introduce a childminding pilot to develop affordable, safe, and reliable childminding services as an additional infant care option for families. The pilot will run for three years and will be launched in the second half of 2024. We aim to serve 500 infants in the first year, and to increase to around 700 infants subsequently. This will allow us to meaningfully evaluate and gather feedback on the pilot.

5.          Under the pilot, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will appoint childminding operators, which will engage childminders to provide childminding services. Each childminder will be allowed to care for up to three infants at any one time, at the childminders’ homes or at community spaces, such as community centres/clubs.

6.          The Government will ensure that childminding services are affordable for parents. Parents’ out-of-pocket expenses for childminding services will be similar to what a median-income family pays for full-day infant care at AOPs, around $700 per month. Parents can also tap on the Child Development Account to further defray their expenses.

7.          Appointed childminding operators will have to adhere to service requirements to ensure that infants are safe. For example, operators must put in place guidelines for child-safe practices, disclose childminders’ profile to parents and ensure that their childminders are trained to care for infants. Additionally, the Government will conduct background checks on childminders prior to their deployment under the pilot. Industry standards will also be co-developed by ECDA and operators for the childminding sector to deliver safe and reliable services.

8.          MSF/ECDA will engage parents and stakeholders subsequently and more details will be provided later in the year.

Strengthening support for caregivers of children with developmental or special needs

Supporting children with developmental needs

9.          In 2024, we will add about 1,500 places to the Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) and EIPIC-P. This will ensure more children with developmental needs can receive timely support.

10.         The Government will launch a new pilot programme, EIPIC-Care, in the second half of 2024. EIPIC-Care is a six-month training programme for caregivers of two to three-year-old children with developmental needs. Caregivers will learn from professionals on how to support their children’s development at home, through group workshops and individual sessions. This will empower caregivers to provide the first line of support for their children, by carrying out intervention in their natural environments and daily routines. The pilot will run for three years, starting in one region. ECDA will announce more details later in the year.

Increasing affordability of Special Student Care Centres (SSCC)

11.         Currently, SSCC fees are subject to fee caps. Families also receive means-tested subsidies to keep SSCC fees affordable, with lower-income families receiving more.

12.         The SSCC fee caps will be lowered in July 2024. Middle-income families will see a reduction of out-of-pocket expenses by up to 40% (see Annex B). We estimate that about 100 families per year will benefit from this enhancement.