More childcare places soon

More childcare places soon

Housing estates such as Punggol, Tampines and Woodlands, which have high demand for pre-school services, are set to get 1,700 more childcare places in the third quarter of the year.

That is when 17 new childcare centres will be opened by Singapore's five anchor operators.

The anchor operator scheme, which was recently expanded to include private players and those with religious links, requires them to keep fees affordable in return for government subsidies.

Monthly fees for a full-day childcare programme cannot be more than $720. The industry median was $920 as of February.

Metropolitan YMCA's MY World Preschool, Kinderland Consortium's Skool4Kidz and EtonHouse International's E-Bridge Pre-school were the first to qualify for the expanded scheme on Jan 27, for a tenure of five years.

They were allocated three sites each for new childcare centres. MY World will also have 11 of its existing centres, mainly in the northern and eastern parts of the island, brought under the scheme.

NTUC First Campus' My First Skool and PAP Community Foundation, which have been anchor operators since 2009, were given four sites each.

The authorities tried to place new centres near those which the recently appointed anchor operators already run. This way, they can "enhance their operational efficiency", said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing.

If a teacher falls ill or needs to go for training, for instance, another teacher from a nearby centre can stand in.

"It's much easier than to (check through their centres) across the entire island," said Mr Chan, who was speaking to reporters yesterday on the sidelines of a visit to a MY World childcare centre in Simei.

Ms Phyllis Tan, chief executive of Metropolitan YMCA, said having these clusters will also help teachers ensure that the curriculum quality is consistently good across centres.

Another 15 childcare centres run by anchor operators are expected to open in the last quarter of the year - but the allocation of the sites has not been decided. In total, these operators are expected to provide about 16,000 more childcare places by 2017.

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