SINGAPORE: Mothers who are looking for a job or are full-time caregivers to their younger children will now get more support in the form of enhanced childcare subsidies, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) announced on Wednesday (Mar 6).
Starting this month, mothers who are not working but are seeking employment will get the basic childcare subsidy of S$300 a month for six months, up from three months currently.
An additional subsidy for working mothers whose household income falls below a certain level will also be extended to these mothers. This subsidy ranges from S$100 to S$440 a month, depending on household income, for six months.
The rationale for this is to give these mothers “greater peace of mind to secure a job”, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Faishal Ibrahim during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday.
Mothers who are unable to work because they are caring for an infant or toddler at home will also receive the S$300 childcare subsidy for their older child until their younger child turns two years old – up from 18 months old currently.
Depending on their household income, they may also be eligible for the additional subsidy of up to S$440.
Meanwhile, non-working mothers who are neither seeking employment nor caring full-time for a young child will continue to receive S$150 in basic subsidy.
FREQUENCY OF REVIEW OF WORKING STATUS
Changes have also been made on the frequency of updates to mothers' working status.
Currently, ECDA verifies the working status of mothers annually, in order to review and update infant or childcare subsidies that pre-school children receive.
It will now verify the working status of mothers and their household incomes at the point of pre-school enrolment, upon a change in programme – such as from infant care to childcare – and at the end of Nursery 2, or the year the child turns four.
Parents who may be eligible for more subsidies because of a change in household income may, however, still apply for a review at any time, ECDA said.
“This change will provide parents with greater certainty on the amount of subsidies they will receive, even if they transit between jobs or take on caregiving responsibilities," Assoc Prof Faishal said.
“It will also reduce the administrative burden on parents as well as pre-schools who assist in administering the subsidies,” he added.
STREAMLINED SUBSIDY APPLICATION
ECDA will also introduce an enhanced centre management system to simplify applications for subsidy and financial assistance, as well as childcare centres' administrative processes such as licence application and enrolment.
Parents will now need to fill in one form to apply for the various subsidies and financial assistance available, down from the current three.
Pre-schools will also benefit from less manual processing and will no longer need to retain copies of birth certificates and NRICs for subsidy applications.
The new system will “smoothen the application process” for about 20,000 new families annually, and halve the time spent on subsidy applications, Assoc Prof Faishal said.
He also announced that ECDA will collaborate with the Health Promotion Board to commission an occupational health and safety assessment.
“They will appoint a panel of experts this year to holistically examine the well-being of preschool staff, as well as recommend job redesign and workplace enhancements,” he said.