SINGAPORE: The Government will aim to strengthen support for young families, particularly in areas such as childcare provision, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Tuesday (Feb 5).
Speaking during a Chinese New Year visit to healthcare workers and patients at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, the minister noted that the Government has been working on strengthening the availability of childcare, ensuring accessibility and quality, and keeping fees affordable.
Compared to 2012, she added that childcare places have more than doubled. By 2023, the total number of places available will grow to 200,000, she said.
"If you look at the rate at which the childcare sector has expanded, I think it has made a definite difference," she added.
Mrs Teo also said that boosting Singapore's fertility rate would involve not just one area of support.
The country's total fertility rate - which measures the average number of children per woman - dropped to 1.16 in 2017, the second lowest ever recorded.
Mrs Teo said that figures for 2018 were being finalised and would be discussed during the upcoming Committee of Supply Budget debate in Parliament.
"But really, I think it goes beyond the numbers," said the minister. "What speaks loudly to us is that if you look at certain communities, actually the fertility rate has shown signs of improvement and so that’s encouraging."
"At the same time, we also get consistent feedback that what is really needed is to strengthen some areas of support," she added.
These include housing support, childcare and flexible work arrangements, said the minister, adding that these are other areas the Government will continue to work on.