Complete Singapore parents' guide to childcare subsidies for their little one(s)

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The rising cost of living in Singapore has made raising a child a relatively expensive affair.

Fortunately for us in Singapore, there are a slew of childcare subsidies to help parents defray costs related to raising young children before they enter school, depending on the eligibility, as well as the terms and conditions of the subsidies.

The subsidies have been further enhanced to help families, and they have been introduced from January 2020.

This is on top of the Baby Bonus' and dollar-for-dollar matching in the Child Development Account, which the government will provide for upon the birth of a new child. Here are the major subsidies parents should know about and utilise.

#1 Subsidies for infant care and childcare

Childcare Subsidy Benefits for each child Application eligibility
Basic Childcare Subsidy $600 for full-day infant care (aged 2 – 18 months) or $300 for full-day childcare for working mothers. Up to $150 for non-working mothers Child must be enrolled in ECDA-licensed centre
Additional Childcare Subsidy Up to $710 (infant care) / Up to $467 (childcare) Gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below or Per Capital Income of $3000 and below for larger families. For mothers and single fathers who work a minimum 56 hours a month, including full/part-time and freelance work arrangements
Child Care Financial Assistance and Start-Up Grant Additional financial assistance for low-income families who face difficulties paying child care fees, even after receiving Basic and Additional Subsidies. Start-up Grant defrays the initial costs of enrolling their child into an infant care or child care centre Child must be Singapore Citizen and enrolled in an affordable infant or child care centre. Both parents must be working work a minimum 56 hours a month, or provide valid reasons if unable to work

Basic childcare subsidy

All parents with children who are Singapore Citizens are entitled to a Basic Childcare Subsidy. To be eligible for the subsidy, the child must be enrolled in a childcare centre licensed by the Early Childhood Development agency (ECDA).

While the income level of the family is not taken into account for the Basic Childcare Subsidy, the amount given depends on the mother's working status. Working mothers will be given a higher Basic Subsidy of $600 for full-day childcare subsidy, while non-working mothers will only be given $150.

Additional childcare subsidy

In addition to the Basic Subsidy, eligible families who meet the criteria can also apply for the Additional Subsidy.

To be eligible, the family must have a gross monthly household income of $12,000 or below, or have a gross monthly per capita income of $3000 and below for larger families with at least 3 dependents who are not earning an income.

In addition to the income eligibility, mothers in the household and single fathers should work a minimum 56 hours a month in any work arrangement, including part-time and freelance work, in order to be able to apply for the Additional Subsidy.

Child care financial assistance and start-up grant

For families who face difficulties paying child care fees even after receiving Basic and Additional Subsidies, they can apply for financial assistance. In addition, they are able to apply for Start-Up Grant, while helps to defray the initial costs of enrolling their child into an infant or child care.

Families who wish to apply for Financial Assistance or Start-Up Grants can approach their childcare centres for application. To apply, the child must be a Singapore Citizen, whose parents have enrolled them in an affordable infant or child care centre.

In addition, both parents must each be working at least 56 hours per month, otherwise they will need to provide a valid reason for unable to work. Applications must be supported with relevant documents.

#2 Subsidies for kindergarten

Childcare Subsidy Benefits for each child Application eligibility
Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) Between $21 and $170 KiFAS subsidy, with minimum co-pay of $1 Child is a Singapore Citizen, and is enrolled in an Anchor Operator or Ministry of Education kindergarten. Gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below or Per Capital Income of $3000 and below for larger families
KiFAS Start-Up Grant Start-up Grant defrays the initial costs of enrolling their child into a kindergarten, up to $240 per year Gross monthly household income of $1,900 and below or Per Capital Income of $650 and below

Kindergarten fee assistance scheme (KiFAS)

To help to ensure Kindergarten programmes remain affordable and accessible for Singaporean children from low- and middle-income families, the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) was introduced. The Scheme is further enhanced from January 2020.

To be eligible for the subsidy, the child must be enrolled in a kindergarten operated by an Anchor Operator (AOP) or Ministry of Education (MOE).

In addition, the family must have a gross monthly household income of $12,000 or below, or have a gross monthly per capita income of $3000 and below for larger families with at least 3 dependents who are not earning an income.

Non-parent caregivers, such as grandparents, foster parents and legal guardians can also apply for KiFAS subsidy under Special Approval. Each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with submission of relevant documents.

KiFAS start-up grant

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For families who need assistance with enrolling their children into kindergarten, they can also apply for the KiFAS Start-Up Grant. The Grant helps to defray the initial cost of enrolment into kindergarten, such as registration fees, deposits and school uniform.

To apply for the Grant, the child must be a Singapore Citizen, and the family must earn a monthly gross household income of $1,900 and below, or gross per capita income of up to $650.

The application is assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the amount capped at $240. Families who wish to apply for the Grant can obtain the application from and submit the completed application, together with relevant documents, through their kindergarten.

This article was first published in Dollars and Sense