SINGAPORE: About 1,300 eligible pre-school children from low income families will receive more financial aid under a top-up programme.
From November, eligible children will receive a S$250 top-up to their Child Development Account (CDA) each year for up to three years, said the Ministry of Education (MOE), EtonHouse Community Fund (ECF) and the Community Foundation of Singapore (CFS) in a joint media release on Thursday (Oct 8).
ECF and CFS will contribute nearly S$1 million to the programme over the next three years, the release said.
The Government will provide dollar-for-dollar matching contributions for the top-ups, up to the child’s eligible contribution cap.
This means eligible children can receive S$500 each in their CDA this year and up to S$1,500 each over three years.
“These funds can be used by their parents/guardians to defray child-raising expenses such as pre-school fees and medical bills at Baby Bonus Approved Institutions,” said the joint media release.
The eligible students are from 57 pre-schools under seven operators: E-Bridge Pre-School, Iyad Perdaus Child Development, Kidz Meadow Childcare and Development Centre, PPIS Child Development Centre, Presbyterian Community Services, Super Talent Childcare and YWCA Child Development Centre.
These children are Singaporeans who are enrolled in pre-schools under the seven selected operators. Their families have a gross monthly household income of S$4,500 or less, and they are receiving Additional Subsidy for their pre-school fees as of July.
The programme is facilitated by the Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Task force (UPLIFT), an inter-agency task force set up in 2018 to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged families.
Second Minister for Education and UPLIFT chairman Dr Maliki Osman said he is “hopeful” that the CDA top-up will encourage more low income families to send their children to pre-school.
“Pre-school plays a crucial role in laying the foundations for a child’s overall development – building their confidence and social skills and encouraging them to be active and curious learners,” he said.
“We welcome the partnership with ECF and CFS, who have stepped forward to contribute to this initiative, especially during this trying period of economic uncertainty and job losses which have impacted many families.
“We strongly encourage more like-minded community partners and corporates to step forward to support such causes, so that we can reach out to even more children from low income families.”
The initiative gives parents “a helping hand” through the early years of a child’s development, said CFS CEO Catherine Loh.
“We have a responsibility to strengthen our social safety nets to ensure no child gets left behind,” she added.
Director of ECF Ng Gim Choo said: “Children are the future pillars of society. With the CDA top-up programme, ECF hopes to improve the lives of children from low-income families through the power of education.”