Channel NewsAsia

New system to allow parents to register their kids for child care online

The one-stop Web portal, named Child Care Link, will allow parents to search for suitable centres for their children, and register their interest in up to five centres at a time, says the Early Childhood Development Agency.

SINGAPORE: Parents can now tap on a new centralised online registration portal, called Child Care Link, to enrol their children into child care centres, after the website was introduced on Friday (Sep 5).

According to a press release by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the new registration management system will allow parents to search for suitable child care centres online via their PCs or mobile devices, and register their interest at preferred centres.

The system will help child care centres better manage registrations and, in time, provide ECDA with more comprehensive information regarding demand and supply that will go into better planning of child care capacity, the agency stated.

On the Child Care Link web portal, parents can search for their preferred centres. They must fill in the type of service they are looking for, as well as their child's age. Parents can register at a maximum of five centres at a time, only six months before enrolment. The centres will then receive notifications and can offer places if there are vacancies. If a parent is offered a place, he must accept it within seven days or remain on other centres' waitlists. So far, 250 of the 1,200 childcare centres in Singapore are already using the system. 

However, one operator Channel NewsAsia spoke to said if parents call a centre more than six months before the child is to be enrolled, it will take note of their interest and such cases will have priority. Said Skool4Kidz Director Robert Leong: "Because the parent probably did her homework and stated her preference upfront. When we follow up with a call, and she still has that priority and preference for us, we will give her that due treatment." 

Minister of Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said: "With this system in place, parents will be able to have a clearer idea of where the places available are, and where there might be long queues. Then they can make their decision properly. The operators will also have a clearer understanding of the demand for places, and they will be able expand the demand accordingly." He also hoped that the new system would cut down on cases of multiple applications for one child, thus allowing operators "to have a better and firmer fixed on the real demand". 

MORE CHILD CARE CENTRES TO BE DEVELOPED

ECDA will also facilitate the development of another 16 child care centres over the next few months, which will provide an additional 1,600 places at these centres. 

This batch of sites will be run by four Anchor Operators - MY World, Skool4Kidz, PAP Community Foundation, and NTUC First Campus (My First Skool). Each operator has been allocated four sites.

E-Bridge Pre-School, launched by EtonHouse International, was not allocated additional sites because of "some administrative issues that E-bridge has to resolve", said ECDA, which is working the operator to address these issues and will allocate new sites to them once it is able to meet the requirements.

This is the second batch of sites to be developed by the Anchor Operators since the start of the Enhanced AOP scheme in January this year, and the centres are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2015, the agency added.