- POSTED: 24 Sep 2013 11:44
- UPDATED: 24 Sep 2013 23:51
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The government will spend up to S$40 million over the next five years to help defray infrastructure costs for non-anchor pre-school operators.
SINGAPORE: The government will spend up to S$40 million over the next five years to help defray infrastructure costs for non-anchor pre-school operators.
Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday announced a suite of schemes to support commercial and pre-school centres funded by voluntary welfare organisations (VWO) in high-demand areas. The schemes will benefit 1,100 pre-school operators.
Mr Chan was visiting Just Kids Learning Place. Located in a shopping centre in Taman Jurong, the centre pays a higher rental fee compared to centres with premises at void decks.
But a new subsidy scheme can potentially save the Just Kids Learning Place about S$5,000 of rental per month.
Under the Portable Rental Subsidy, non-anchor operators (AOP) who want to operate in commercial spaces can receive a government subsidy of 30 to 60 per cent of rental costs.
The government will subsidise 60 per cent of rental costs for VWO-funded centres, and 30 per cent rental costs for commercial centres.
Just Kids Learning Place, which plans to apply for the subsidy, said the money it saves can be used to improve the quality of its services.
Director of Just Kids Learning Place, Lurvin Lee-Yuen, said: "We'll be using (the money that is saved) for the training of the teachers, for the equipping of the centre (and) for purchasing of equipment and resources for children."
The new suite of schemes is part of the government's efforts to increase its support to operators setting up in areas of high demand, or areas where pre-schools experience high enrolment rate, as well as where the provision of places for pre-school children in the area is insufficient.
Examples of high-demand areas include Punggol, Jurong West, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang and Tampines.
Mr Chan said: "We know in some of the new towns like Punggol, Sengkang (and) Jurong West, there are a lot of young couples who have childcare needs. And we want to accelerate the building programme for these new towns to meet the needs of the parents, which is why we rolled out these various schemes to help them expand the capacity in the new towns."
A new grant called Kindergarten Conversion Grant will also allow kindergartens in high-demand areas convert their current premises into full-day childcare centres with a 20 to 50 per cent subsidy of the development cost to defray the conversion costs of premises.
Mr Chan said: "Because of the changing demographics, some of the kindergartens in some of the more mature estates may face a declining enrolment and with that we hope to use their existing capacity to help them convert to childcare centres, so that we can also expand the overall childcare places across the entire island."
Pre-school centres can also claim up to S$4,000 a year on teaching materials and equipment. The Teaching & Learning Resources Grant will cover items such as arts and crafts or books, as long as the materials support a child's holistic development.
Two schemes will also be enhanced. The Community/Sports Facilities Scheme will be extended to commercial childcare centres and the Workplace Child Care Centre Scheme will be extended to non-government owned buildings.
Previously, only government-owned buildings were eligible for the development grant.
This is the second suite of support schemes for non-anchor childcare operators, which are part of the government's efforts to provide quality and affordable pre-school services.
In November, the government will announce a third set of schemes which will focus on manpower.