PARENTS whose children are in childcare centres stand to benefit from lower fees under a new scheme.
While details are still scant, the new partner operator scheme will have childcare operators commit to keeping fees affordable.
A median-income household could pay around $100 less in fees a month, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. This example is based on a household paying $500 a month in childcare fees after a $400 subsidy.
The Straits Times understands that one aspect of the scheme is to get small operators to share resources so as to keep costs down, as Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing had said in January.
Mrs Liaw-Tan Xinhui, director of Ameba Schoolhouse, which has one centre, said operators might not be willing to share resources such as teachers or curriculum as these are their selling points.
But she said she is willing to join other pre-schools in organising events or share back-end resources such as administrators.
Account manager Ong Boon Hua, 33, whose four-year-old son attends NurtureStars @ Safra Mount Faber, said he hopes the pre-school will join the partner operator scheme.
He pays about $350 in childcare fees after subsidies, instead of the regular $1,000, and hopes to pay even less. The money he saves on childcare could then go towards the care of his parents, who live with him in a three-generation household of seven.
The new scheme is meant to complement the current anchor operator programme, where operators get government grants and rental subsidies in exchange for providing affordable and quality pre-school education.
With the two schemes, the Government aims to have about half of pre-school children in Singapore benefit from more affordable and quality pre-schools by 2020, said Mr Tharman. The Government will spend $250 million on enhanced support for both schemes over the next five years.
Families will also get help in paying for pre-school fees with a top-up to the Child Development Accounts of Singaporean children aged six and below this year.
Most children will receive $600, while those with an annual home value of more than $13,000 will receive $300.
The top-up will cost $126 million and benefit 230,000 children.
For a middle-income household, the top-up of $600 can cover more than a month of childcare costs after subsidies, said Mr Tharman.
The Straits Times / Top of The News Published on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015