SINGAPORE: Parents can look forward to lower fee caps for partner operator pre-schools from 2021.
Partner operators appointed from 2021 to 2025 will be required to keep fees within reduced fee caps, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents, said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) on Friday (Nov 29).
From January 2021, the fee caps for partner operator pre-school centres will be lowered to S$760 per month for full-day childcare and S$1,330 per month for infant care services, not including GST.
The current fee caps are S$800 and S$1,400 per month before GST.
ECDA seeks to appoint more centres for the next term of the scheme from 2021 to 2025, and called for new applications from childcare operators who are keen to become partner operators.
ECDA said applicants need to have a good track record in delivering quality pre-school services, be financially stable and ensure that their centres are accessible to children of all races, languages and religions.
Operators should offer 300 or more places and express interest before the submission deadline of Jan 31, 2020.
There are currently 23 partner operators under the scheme, which run 250 childcare centres, including Carpe Diem, Star Learners and Busy Bees.
Global EduHub, which operates Mulberry Learning, Little Green House and Alphabet Playhouse, said it is interested to apply to become a partner operator. None of its 22 pre-schools are currently on the scheme.
“We believe joining the partner operator scheme will help us to continue investing in raising quality standards and enhancing staff development, while keeping fees reasonable and accessible for a broader group of parents,” said chief operating officer Peh Yi Han.
This follows announcements earlier this year of higher pre-school subsidies and a raised income ceiling of S$12,000. This will extend the subsidies to 30,000 more households, or more than 60 per cent of households in Singapore.
Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Desmond Lee had previously said that the Government aims to lower fee caps at government-supported pre-schools “in the medium term” so that families pay about S$300 per month after basic subsidies, to match that of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees.
In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also announced that Singapore’s annual spending of about S$1 billion on early childhood education will “more than double” over the next few years, as the Government looks to make pre-school education more affordable.
According to ECDA, the majority of parents will pay less for pre-school with the enhanced pre-school subsidies taking effect from January 2020.