New child-care related schemes announced this year

New child-care related schemes announced this year

More government subsidies for childcare services.

When: January

What: The subsidies, which were handed out from April, are for working mothers and tiered according to household income, with the lower-income families receiving the most support.

Families with monthly household incomes of $2,500 or less will be subsidised up to $740 a month, making childcare virtually free as median fees are about $750.

Why: The move is aimed at helping low- to middle-income families cope with childcare costs and encourage families to have children.

New tender criteria for operators bidding for HDB sites.

When: June

What: Putting up the highest bid no longer guarantees a commercial operator a much-coveted HDB site.

The authorities now look at a range of factors, such as the quality of its programmes and its fees, under the new tender criteria. The bid price makes up only half the score.

Why: This could lead to more affordable childcare services.

The previous practice of awarding HDB sites based solely on price had sparked bidding wars among operators and often led to higher fees for parents.

Anchor operator scheme expanded to include for-profit operators.

When: June

What: The scheme was previously opened only to non-profit operators. The anchor operators - usually the bigger players - get government help such as rental subsidies and priority in securing HDB premises.

In exchange, they have to keep fees below the industry median, which is about $788 a month for a full-day childcare programme.

Currently, there are two anchor operators, NTUC's My First Skool and the PAP Community Foundation.

Under the new scheme, commercial operators can also apply for grants to set up centres in the heartland.

They are required to keep fees below $720 a month for full-day childcare. The new anchor operators will be made known at year's end.

Why: The move is aimed at providing cheaper and better pre-school programmes for the mass market.

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