How parents can cope with fee hike at pre-schools

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Last week, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), the largest pre-school operator in Singapore, announced that it will raise fees across its kindergarten and child care centres from 2016.

Both will raise monthly childcare fees at most of their centres next year, by an average of $34 for My First Skool and $28 for PCF.

For infant care, My First Skool will raise fees by $14 on average, while PCF will charge $48 more.

My First Skool and PCF, appointed as anchor operators catering to the mass market, said the new fees will generally be lower than the maximum allowed for them.

Anchor operators get government grants. But they cannot charge more than $720 a month for full-day childcare and $1,275 a month for full-day infant care, before goods and services tax. This is below the industry median fee of $900 and $1,343 for the services respectively.

With such high prices, how can Singaporeans continue to provide quality pre-school education for their children?

1. Kindergarten Financial Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)

KiFAS is open for parents whose gross monthly household salary is $6,000 and below, with a Singapore Citizen child enrolled in kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery (K2, K1, N or pre-N) programme in PCF kindergartens.

Lower income families will receive a higher quantum of support of up to $170 in fee assistance per month. KiFAS application can be made through your child's PCF kindergarten.

You can request for an application form at the kindergarten, followed with parents' identity cards and pay slips, as well as the birth certificate of your child.

2. PCF Headstart Fund (HSF)

The PCF Headstart Fund is meant to help needy young preschool children, strictly for parents whose net per capita income is less than or equal to $500.

Two types of assistance are available:

1) Successful applicants will receive $50 a month up to a maximum of $600 a year, or

2) Successful applicants with special needs (eg. hearing/ visually impaired, autistic, Down Syndrome) will receive $100 a month up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. Application forms are available from any PCF centre or at the PAP MPs' office during the Meet-the-People session.

3. Child Care/ Infant Care Subsidy

All parents with Singapore Citizen children enrolled in child care centres licensed by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will be eligible for a basic subsidy of up to $600 for infant care and $300 for child care respectively.

Additional subsidies are also disbursed for working mother who is working 56 hours or more per month and gross family household income is $7,500 and below. The Additional Subsidy is between $100 - $440 for child care and $200 - $540 for infant care, depending on the household income level. You can refer to the additional subsidy calculator here for more details.

Other than subsidies, you can also use the money from the Child Development Account to help you pay for your children's education. Remember, the government also matches your deposits in the CDA of up to $6,000 for your first and second child and $12,000 for your third and fourth child.

Check for the list of approved institutions here.

This article was originally on at: Pre-school Fee Hike: Can Singaporeans Cope?


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