General Information on Child Care Services


1.   What is the definition of a child care centre?

The Child Care Centres Act (Cap 37A), defines a child care centre as:
"any premises at which 5 or more children who are under the age of 7 years are habitually received for the purposes of care and supervision during part of the day or for longer periods."

2.   Why must child care centres be licensed?

Child care centres are licensed by Early Childhood Development Agency, under the Child Care Centres Act (Cap. 37A) and Regulations. Child care centres are required to obtain a licence before commencing operations. Centres are required to meet basic standards of health care, safety precautions, food quality and security measures. They also provide activities to stimulate a child's mental, physical and social development.Supervisors and teachers of child care centres are required to have adequate training.


3.   What checks do the Agency conduct to ensure centres provide adequate standard of care and supervision?

All licensed child care centres are required to meet theminimum standards in care and supervision of children stipulated by licensing requirements.

ECDA officers conduct unannounced visits to centres to ensure that quality care and supervision are maintained.The key dimensions of assessment include the centre' physical environment, safety/health/hygiene/nutrition, staff training and requirements, programme and curriculum and administration and record keeping.

4. Why are centres issued with different tenure of licence? What do they mean?

Centres are issued with licences of different tenure - 6 months, 12 months or 24 months, depending on their performance.

A 24-month licence is issued to a child care centre that has exceeded ECDA' licensing requirements, indicative of a high quality centre.o0

A 12-month licence is issued to centres that meet the Agency's acceptable standards of care.

;A 6-month licence is issued to centres that have not met certain crucial licensing requirements. Such infractions might include an isolated incident that breaches licensing requirements or certain aspects of care standards that need to be improved. The Agency hand-holds and guides such centres to ensure that they improve their services.

Choosing a Child Care Centre

Can you recommend a "better" centre for my child?

ECDA does not recommend "better" child care centres. Child carecentres offer a wide variety of programmes that meet the needs of the children that they serve. This allows for diversity in the ethos and teaching methods of pre-school education. Parents are, therefore, advised to identify centres that best suit the specific needs of their children.

All child care centres are licensed before they begin operation. The child care licence is given to centres that adequately meet requirements on physical environment, safety, health, hygiene, nutrition, staff training, programme and curriculum, and administration.

The tenure of a child care centre licence can range from 6 months to24 months depending on the standard of care and services provided. The latter indicates a centre that has commendably met the key licensing requirements. Since the licence is subject to renewal, child care centres' performance will be regularly monitored to ensure that they meet minimum standards at all times.

2.   Is there any centre that provide over-night care?

Child care centres usually operate from 7.00am to 7.00pm. Parents may obtain information on the centre using the "Search for Programmes" function.

Enrolment & Withdrawal

1.   I am not sure whether my child is able to adjust to the child care setting. Can he/she be enrolled on a trial basis? What is the fee payable?

Child care centres provide trial periods for new childrento enable parents to assess the suitability of the centre for their child. Most of them offer a two week trial period. For more details, please refer to the centre's rules and regulations on withdrawal and fees.

I have given one month notice to the child care centre to withdraw my child but the centre refuse to refund the deposit to me. Can you help?

Child care centres are private business entities with their own administrative policies on financial matters such as the collection and refund of deposits. The Agency does not intervene in financial transactions or contracts signed between a child care centre and parents.

Parents are advised to obtain a copy of the parents' handbook on centres' and read the rules and regulations at the point of enrolment to minimise any misunderstanding that may arise.

The centre should also provide parents with a copy of the "Guide for Parentswith Children in Child Care Centres" upon confirmation of enrolment.

Parents are advised to approach the child care centre directly for disputes on financial matters.​


Child Care Fees

1.   Does the Early Childhood Development Agency control the child care fees?

Our Agency does not control the child care fees. Child care centres are private business entities with their own administrative policies on financial matters such as thecollection of child care fees, deposits and procedures for refunds.

In accordance with the Child Care Centres Regulation (revised Edition 2012), 40(2),child care centres may revise their fees for any year if notice of such change has been given to the Agency and parents not later than 1 October ofthe preceding year. Centres are also required to explain to parents the rationale for the revision in fees and attend to their queries, if any. 

2.   Should the Government consider absorbing the GST increase for child care fees, like what it has done for the education and healthcare sectors?

The Government is not a provider of child care services, unlike the education and healthcare sectors. The child care industry consists of private companies and community organisations. NTUC Childcare recently announced that ithas taken steps to absorb the GST increase. Some of the other child care operators may want to do the same.

The Government will monitor affordability and will work with the child care operators to manage cost increases if necessary. We will also ensure that affordable child care will not be at the expense of the quality of care and education provided at centres.​

1.   Which are the centres that provide infant care services?

You can search for a list of child care centres providinginfant care services using the "Search for Child Care Centres" function. Under "ServiceType Programme", select the option "Infant Care Programme" and click on the "Search" button.

2.   What is the infant-caregiver ratio like?

The maximum staff-child ratio for infant/toddlers (2 to 18 months) stipulated by ECDA is 1 caregiver to 5 infants/toddlers.

3.   What kind of training/experience is the infant care-giver taking care of my baby expected to have?

Infant care-givers responsible for taking care of infants/toddlers in infant/toddler care centres must possess a Certificate in Infant/Toddler Care or the Fundamentals Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education (with certification in Infant/Toddler), or its equivalent recognised by the Agency. Centres can also employ State Registered Nurses to be infant/toddlercare-givers. In addition, centres may employ Infant Care Assistants to assist the care-giver.

Infant care-givers must be at least 21 years old and possess a valid first aid certificate. Infant care assistants must be above 18 years and preferably possess a valid first aid certificate as well as a Fundamentals Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education or its equivalent recognised by ECDA.

4.   Other than feeding, napping and routine care, what kind of stimulation / programmes would infant care centres have for my baby?

An infant/toddler care programme primarily focuses on routine care tasks,rituals and play.

The care-giving aspect underlying these routine tasks and rituals and play, constitute an important part of an infant/toddler curriculum. The interaction and rituals foster the infant/ toddler's learning and provides the stimulation for development.

In an infant/toddler care programme, interaction and physical contacts are essential to the well-being of the infants/toddlers. Care-givers are encouraged to give each infant/toddler as much physical contact / attention as possible. Some of these include: being held, gently rocked, talked / listened to, sung to, taken on short walks within the centre's vicinity, etc.

5.   Will my child be attached to the same caregiver all the time?

To maximise stability and consistency of care, infant/toddler centres are encouraged to allocate a primary caregiver to a particular group of infants/toddlers.

6.   Is there a daily schedule for all babies?

Infant/toddler care centres should have a daily schedule organised around each infant/toddler's routines. Each infant/toddler should be allowed to form individual patterns of feeding, toileting and napping. The daily schedule shouldbe flexible to be reviewed and adjusted to accommodate individual infant/toddler's changing needs and at the same time provide some stability and order to the day.

7.   What kind of information should centres volunteer to parents?

Infant/toddler care centres should maintain a daily observation record on each infant/toddler such as those on feeds, naps and bowel movements. A log book to record unusual events e.g. accidents / incidents etc should be maintained and bemade available to parents.

8.   Do infant care centres have guidelines to adhere to?

All infant/toddler care and child care centres are bound by the Child Care Centres Act (Cap 37A) and the Child Care Regulations (Cap 37A). In addition, they have to follow the administrative guidelines for Centre Based Infant/Toddler Care Services.

9.   Do I have to provide my own diapers / milk powder for my baby?

The provision of diapers/milk powder for infants/toddlers is usually discussed and agreed upon between the centre and theparents. In most centres, the parents provide the diapers and milk powder due tothe diverse needs of individual babies.

10.   Will the centre provide developmental toys/materials for my baby?

Infant care centres should provide a broad range of equipment to allow for different types of play such as constructive, gross motor, heuristic, dramatic and social play.

11.   Will the infants/toddlers share a common area with older child care children?

Infant/toddler care centres should provide a separate indoor activity area for the infant/toddlers away from the child care children. The napping/sleeping areamust also be separated from other activity areas.

12.   Will the centre "divide" the mobile infants from the non-mobile ones?

In infant/toddler care centres, the play areas for non-mobile infants should be separated from mobile infants.

13.   Will the centre provide an individual cot for my baby?

Infants aged 12 months and below will be provided with a crib/cot with mattress and mattress cover, while those aged 13 months and above will be provided with a mattress with mattress cover. Centres should provide a cot/crib for a baby during nap time but this is not restricted to the same cot/crib daily. However, each infant/toddler's bedding should be used for him/her only.

14.   Does my baby need to receive the necessary immunisation before admission into the centre?

Child Care Regulations (CAP 37A), 11 (1) states "No child care centre shall enrol any child who has not been given immunisation as required under existing law." Infant/toddler care centres are subject to this regulation too.


15.   How old must my baby be before she can be admitted into the centre?

The infant must be at least 56 days old at the time of admission.

16.   What should I look for in an infant care centre before deciding to enrol my baby in the centre?

As a parent, you should visit the infant/toddler care centre most convenient to you. Some of the factors you can assess in the centre are :-


The physical layout of the centre, 
The environment for the infants, 
The areas and facilities for indoor/outdoor play, nap, feeding, diapering..etc, 
The furnishings for the infants,
The toys provided for the infants/toddlers


The hygiene and health practices
The menu provided for the infants/toddlers


The number of caregivers for the infants/toddlers
The experience and training received by the caregivers


The interaction between the care-giver and the infants/toddlers



The types of records for individual infant/toddler

You may download a copy of the brochure on "Choosing a Child Care Centre for your Child" here.


Children who are Sick


1. Why are sick children not allowed to attend centre-based care and who set the guideline?

ECDA, in consultation with MOH and NEA, sets the requirements on health and hygiene matters for child care centres.Children in centre-based care are more prone to infectious diseases because theyspend a large part of their day in groups and in close contact with one another.Diseases can rapidly spread in the event of an outbreak. Sick children have to be excluded to prevent them from transmitting infectious diseases to other childrenwho are well.


2. Under what circumstances do I need to obtain a doctor's certification for my child before he/she returns to centre-based care?

Please note that, 

"Any child - who has fever; or who is on medication shall not be admitted physically into or attend any class at any child care centre. 

"A child who has no fever but is on medication may be admitted physically into or attend any class at any child care centre if 

(a) the period of unfitness stated in any medical certificate signed by any registered practitioner with respect to the child, has expired and the child does not exhibit any symptom of illness; or

(b) the child is certified by any registered medical practitioner to be medically fit to attend class at the child care centre.

Nurseries and Kindergarten​s


1. How can I obtain more information about kindergartens or education centres, which enrol children for academic purposes and only for a few hours?

Kindergartens provide a 3-year pre-school developmental programme for children from 4 to 6 years of age. The 3-year programme consists of Nursery, Kindergarten 1 and Kindergarten 2. Most kindergartens run two sessions a day, with each session ranging from 3 to 4 hours, 5 days a week. They are currently registered under Ministry of Education (MOE) and will come under the oversight of ECDA from 1 April 2013.

You can search for a kindergarten on​​.​

Information updated as at 18 November 201​6​
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