SINGAPORE - Parents will now find it more convenient to register their children at childcare centres - through a new online system.
At www.childcarelink.gov.sg, they can search for available places at the 1,200 centres here and register at up to five centres using just one form.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) can identify repeat applications and have a better gauge of the actual number of children who need a place, based on their birth certificate numbers. This would help in its plans to provide childcare places.
The system can also help operators manage their registrations, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said yesterday after a visit to a Skool4kidz centre in Woodlands.
"Some parents, in their anxiety to register their children, may register at multiple places... We have feedback from operators that when they have the capacity, they call the parents (who registered), and some parents tell them that they have gotten a place (elsewhere)."
It is not mandatory for parents or operators to use the system.
If a child is offered a place, parents have to accept it within seven days or choose to remain on other centres' waitlists. Once they accept an offer, the child's record is taken off the waitlists.
The system allows parents to enrol their child at the centre up to six months in advance. Those who want to register even earlier will have to call centres to register, if the centres allow for this.
For instance, Skool4kidz will keep records of such parents and may give them priority if they are still interested six months before the child is due to be enrolled, said its director Robert Leong.
Mr Chan said: "How good this system is will depend critically on the inputs by parents and operators."
ECDA consulted people to ensure the system met their needs, he said. It surveyed over 1,000 parents and found that most do not register their children at more than five centres.
About 40 operators running 200 centres now use the system, which went live on Wednesday.
Registration data of all 242 centres run by My First Skool and PAP Community Foundation - two of the largest operators here - has been or will soon be transferred to the system. Data of all centres by E-Bridge - which had parents queueing overnight at a centre in May - has also been migrated to the system.
Mr Chan said he expects more operators to come on board soon, as they can benefit from knowing which parents who registered have secured a place elsewhere.
This is a key issue and happens for about two in 10 places offered, said Ms Joyce Chan, director of Agape Little Uni. She said they are likely to use the new system.
Creative director David Tan, 40, who has a daughter due next month, liked the convenience of the system. He said: "I will still do my homework and find out about the centre's teaching methods and parents' reviews."
Yesterday, Mr Chan said another 16 centres will be set up over the next few months and be ready by mid-next year. They will be run by anchor operators, which are required to keep fees low in return for government subsidies.
They will add 1,600 more childcare places, bringing the Government closer to its target of adding 20,000 places by 2017.
This article was published on Seo 6 in The Straits Times.
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