Mr Liang Eng Hua asked the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) whether the Ministry tracks the current number of infants on a waitlist for a place at an infant care centre; (b) what is the average waiting time; and (c) how many new infant care places are likely to be ready in 2024 and 2025.
1. Currently, parents may register their interest for infant care with a preschool, which can either confirm a place, or place them on a waitlist. From the point of registration of interest, waiting time typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months as it is influenced by various factors. In particular, some parents prefer to send their children to a specific centre. If the centre is full, they may have to wait longer.
2. In 2023, there were around 14,600 centre-based infant care places. Of these, about 10,500, or 72% were taken up. In 2022, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) observed that a handful of districts were experiencing tighter supply in infant care places due to factors such as COVID-19 related delays in preschool construction and higher demand for infant care from families. ECDA has worked closely with Anchor Operators in such districts to expand capacity, step up recruitment efforts, and divert manpower internally so that their centres can enrol more children. By the end of 2023, the number of districts with tighter supply has fallen. ECDA is continuing with efforts to increase infant care supply and improve preschool utilisation in the remaining districts with tighter supply.
3. ECDA is working closely with Anchor Operators to build more than 1,500 new infant care places in 2024 and will continue to ramp up supply beyond 2024.