Stay-at-home parents deserve more support

Stay-at-home parents deserve more support

STAY-AT-HOME mothers who devote themselves to raising their children deserve some financial recognition and help in planning for their retirement from the state ("Call for more support for stay-at-home mothers"; last Monday).

These mothers not only provide their children with optimal care, but also increase the availability of scarce childcare places for the children of working mothers by not utilising them.

Working mothers who put their children in childcare centres enjoy at least a $400 subsidy in childcare fees every month from the state.

It is only fair that stay-at-home mothers should also be entitled to this level of financial support from the state.

At present, working mothers enjoy two additional months of maternity leave subsidised by the state.

Perhaps the Government could also consider extending maternity benefits to non-working mothers, the sum of which is yet to be equitably determined.

These state contributions could be credited to their Central Provident Fund (CPF) Special Accounts for the sole purpose of building up their retirement sufficiency.

While the spotlight is on stay-at-home mothers, we should also not neglect the needs of the small number of stay-at-home fathers, who may also be financially at risk during retirement.

We should therefore work towards gender neutrality in providing support to such parents, like in the Scandinavian countries.

At present, only the balances in the CPF Ordinary Account can be used to top up a family member's CPF account.

Given that most people would have to rely on their Ordinary Account for housing and other financial contingencies, this balance would likely be much less than that in their Special Account.

To enable the spouses and children of the stay-at-home parent to top up the latter's CPF accounts more readily, the balances in the Special Account above the Minimum Sum should also be eligible for transfer.

This article was first published on Mar 9, 2015.
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