SINGAPORE: The Government plans to open calls for new pre-school partner operators by the end of this year, as it works toward lowering childcare costs for parents in Singapore.
The call for childcare operators will take place by the end of this year, and by next year for kindergarten operators.
“We’ll open it up to a small number of good quality kindergartens, both not-for-profit as well as private, to come and join the Partner Operator scheme,” said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee in an interview with News 5 on Friday (Aug 30).
“By 2021, when (the new partner operators) are in place, we will bring down the fee caps, starting with them,” he added. The current fee cap for full-day childcare partner operators is S$856 after GST.
Mr Lee’s comments come after the announcement on Wednesday that additional subsidies for pre-schools will be increased across all eligible income tiers from January 2020.
In the medium term, the Government aims to lower fee caps at government-supported pre-schools so that parents pay about S$300 per month to match that of the total cost of primary school plus after-school student care fees.
In addition to lowering childcare costs, the Government also plans to expand the number of government-supported pre-schools to 80 per cent over time.
At the moment, just over half of all pre-school places are government-supported.
"Our commitment to enable eight in 10 pre-schoolers to have a place in good quality, affordable preschools in the government-supported sector represents our commitment to developing every child in Singapore," said Mr Lee.
There are currently five anchor operators and 23 partner operators. As of August, they manage a total of 822 infant care centres, childcare centres and kindergartens.
With the Government's commitment to grow the sector, there is ample opportunity for private and not-for-profit operators to enter the government-supported sector, said Mr Lee.
“Enrolment for childcare is going up for pre-schools, as more parents recognise the importance of a good early childhood education,” he said.
“So there’s space for niche operators, space for private operators.”