Four more mega childcare centres run by anchor operators will open by mid-2018, bringing the total number of such centres to nine. Construction of the four centres will start this year.
Two of the upcoming ones will be in Punggol and have 1,000 childcare places each – believed to be the largest ever for a childcare centre here. The others will be in Sengkang (400 places) and Bukit Panjang (300 places). A centre in a Housing Board void deck usually admitsabout 100 children.
The anchor operators are government appointed and receive grants and priority in securing sites in HDB estates for setting up the centres, but they must capfees at $720 a month for full-day childcare, among other criteria.
Like the first five large childcare centres run by anchor operators which have opened since 2016, the four newcentres are in estates where there are many families with young children.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said on Jan 18 that the new centres will be built to integrate with the community and the environment, “to enhance learning and developmental opportunities for children enrolled in the new centres”.
The Sengkang centre, which broke ground on Wednesday, is sited in Sengkang Riverside Park. Designed by Freight Architects, it is said to be the first childcare centre built in a park.
The two-storey campus has a cocoon-like structure, designed to be like a “rolling hill that seamlessly blends into the environment”. It has a built-up area of 3,600 sq m, almost four times the size of an average childcare centre.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said at the ground-breaking ceremony on Jan 18: “This centre at Sengkang Riverside Park is the result of a partnership with the National Parks Board (NParks), so our children can easily participate in physical and outdoor activities. This enhances the children’s wellbeing and development, and also nurtures their appreciation for nature from a young age.”
ECDA’s partnership with NParks includes activities for children to learn about Singapore’s natural heritage. An educational resource package about the country’s biodiversity has also been distributed to 80,000 children in 1,600 pre-schools.
Registration for the four new large childcare centres will open in the second quarter of 2017, at www.childcarelink.gov.sg
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Artist’s impression: Skool4kidz)