Families can look forward to more childcare subsidies and a more convenient application process to get aid, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Senior Parliamentary Secretary Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim announced yesterday.
Here are the key changes that every Singapore mum should know.
Can mums get childcare or infant care subsidies if they’re still looking for a job?
Yes. As of March 1, unemployed mothers looking for work will receive monthly subsidies – $300 and $600 per child in childcare and infant care, respectively – for six months, up from the current three.
They will also get additional subsidies of between $100 and $540 a month for six months if their monthly household income is $7,500 and below.
How about stay-at-home mums?
Yes, if they have at least two children. For these mothers caring full-time for their younger child aged two or younger, they will also receive the childcare or infant care subsidy for their older child until their younger child turns two years old – up from 18 months old now.
Depending on their household income, they may also be eligible for extra subsidies of up to $540 a month.
Do single parents qualify for these benefits, too?
Yes. The childcare and infant care subsidy that they receive are separate from the basic subsidy of $150 a month that all non-working mothers get, regardless of family income.
Are there changes for working mums?
There is no change to basic subsidies for employed mothers, deemed to be working if they work at least 56 hours a month. They get $300 and $600 per child for childcare and infant care, respectively.
How can mums apply for the subsidies?
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will introduce a centre management system (CMS) which will streamline subsidy applications and administrative processes like licence applications to provide parents and pre-schools greater convenience.
For example, parents will have to fill in just one form – down from three currently – to apply for various subsidies and financial aid schemes. This will halve the time spent on such applications.
All childcare centres and kindergartens regulated by the ECDA must use the CMS, and the ministry aims to roll it out to all pre-schools later this year.
Will there be more childcare places?
MSF has increased the number of childcare places from about 90,000 in 2012 to around 170,000 today, and plans to raise it to 200,000 by 2023 so that every child who needs a pre-school place has one. The monthly median fees are now $171 for kindergarten and $856 for childcare, before subsidies.
For programmes like KidSTART, which started in 2016 as an ECDA pilot and was aimed at breaking the poverty cycle by intervening early in the lives of children from low-income families, MSF will study the viability of scaling up.
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.
(Photos: The Straits Times)