Around 17,000 childcare places added in 2 years

Around 17,000 childcare places added in 2 years
Children at MY World’s childcare centre in Simei listening attentively as their teacher reads out a story. Metropolitan YMCA’s MY World Preschool is one of the five anchor operators.

ABOUT 17,000 childcare places have been added over the past two years and the Government is on track to meet its target of adding 20,000 places by 2017.

This means about 85 per cent of the additional childcare places in 200 childcare centres to be set up over five years have been added within the first two years. A number of initiatives have also started to recruit teachers to support these new centres.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing gave this update in Parliament yesterday in response to Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who asked about the progress of increasing childcare places.

Demand for childcare services has almost doubled in the past 10 years, as more working parents enrol their children in pre-schools. Last year, close to 84,000 children were enrolled in childcare.

"ECDA (Early Childhood Development Agency) closely monitors childcare demand and will continue to expand capacity in estates with many young families to meet their needs," Mr Chan said.

The minister also gave an update on the take-up rate of schemes aimed to attract and retain pre-school teachers, after Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) asked for these numbers.

The Government hopes to add 2,000 pre-school professionals from 2013 to 2017 to support the expansion of childcare centres.

More than 200 positions were filled through the Early Childhood Career and Education Fair last year, and 50 people have completed a traineeship programme that was launched last year.

The programme gives mid-career workers first-hand experience of working in a pre-school, with 40 to 80 hours of on-the-job training and an hourly allowance. Participants get extra money if they attend at least 75 per cent of the programme, and if they go on to take up a job in the pre-school sector.

"ECDA will continue to work with the sector to put in place structured career pathways and develop early childhood professionals," said mr Chan.

He said the Government has also worked to ensure the required space for childcare centres is taken into consideration in the design of new Housing Board blocks.

More details on ways to address the lack of childcare places in estates which do not have enough void deck space to site the centres will be given at the upcoming Budget debate next month, he said.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on February 13, 2015.
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