Parents in areas where there are not enough childcare centres may soon find it easier to secure places for their children.
A slew of new measures were unveiled yesterday to encourage childcare operators to open more centres in areas with high demand for such services.
For instance, operators can get rental subsidies even when they set up centres in commercial buildings like malls. Currently, subsidies are given to eligible operators only for centres in Housing Board premises such as void-deck areas.
To house these new centres, developers of commercial premises will be given incentives - in the form of additional floor area - when they set aside space for childcare facilities.
The Government will set aside up to $40 million over the next five years to fund these schemes, in the latest round of measures to ramp up childcare places.
The schemes unveiled yesterday were targeted at small and mid-sized childcare centres run by commercial and non-profit operators. These operators have found it hard to cope with rising rentals, and to compete with bigger players for space to expand.
About 847 of the 1,070 childcare centres here are run by small and mid-sized operators.
Under a scheme announced yesterday, these operators can apply from October for rental subsidies when they set up centres in commercial premises in areas where pre-school services are in high demand. The Government will subsidise 30 per cent of rental costs for commercial centres, and 60 per cent for those run by voluntary welfare organisations.