29 November 2019​

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FOR 
NEW TERM OF CHILDCARE PARTNER OPERATOR SCHEME

Fee caps will be lowered for Partner Operator preschools to benefit families

1. At the National Day Rally 2019, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government would continue to increase government-supported preschool places to improve families’ access to affordable and quality preschools. By around 2025, 80 per cent of preschoolers can have a place in a government-supported preschool, up from about 50 per cent today. ​​​

Expansion and Enhancement of the POP Scheme

2. As part of efforts to expand the provision of government-supported places, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will extend the Partner Operator (POP) scheme with a new call for applications from childcare operators. The POP scheme was introduced in 2016 and currently has 23 POP operators running 250 childcare centres, which together benefit more than 20,000 Singapore Citizen (SC) children. Under the new term, ECDA seeks to appoint more centres onto the POP scheme.


3. Under its new term, the POP scheme will provide funding support to appointed childcare centres to further improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of their childcare and infant care services. Appointed POP centres will be required to meet the following enhanced requirements:

a. Reduce fees to within the revised fee caps for SC children, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents. To further enhance affordability of preschools, the fee caps for POP centres will be lowered in the new term to $760 and $1,330 per month for full-day childcare and infant care services respectively, compared to existing corresponding fee caps of $800 and $1,400 per month.

b. Invest in improving centre quality through efforts such as attaining certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK), and strengthening corporate capabilities. 

c. Support continuing professional development and sector attraction for centre leaders, teachers and educarers.

1All fees cited in this media release are before GST.


4. Partner Operators will be selected through an open and competitive process. Applicants will need to demonstrate good track record in delivering quality preschool services; be financially stable and sustainable in their operations; and ensure their centres are publicly accessible to children of all races, languages and religions. Applicants will also need to be committed to professional development and enhancing organisational excellence capabilities. Operators which currently offer 300 or more childcare and/or infant care places are invited to submit an Expression of Interest to participate in the scheme. Registered Key Appointment Holders should email Sector_Funding@ecda.gov.sg with their centre codes for information on how to submit an Expression of Interest. Existing Partner Operators will also have to express their interest if they wish to be considered for the new term. Interested operators are advised to email their interest early to ensure they have sufficient time to prepare their applications before the submission deadline, which is 31 January 2020 (Fri), 5pm. Successful applicants will be appointed onto the scheme for a new five-year term starting from January 2021.

More Affordable Preschool Services

5. As the capacity of government-supported preschools grows over the medium term, we aim to further lower fee caps at government-supported preschools so that working families with a child in full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees, which currently total around $300 per month. This is before means-tested preschool subsidies are applied. In the immediate term, with the enhanced preschool subsidies taking effect from January 2020, the majority of parents will pay less for preschool.

6.The Government is committed to improving access to affordable and quality preschool services. Overall, Government’s annual spending on the early childhood sector is expected to more than double over the next few years, from around $1 billion in 2018.

To apply, registered Key Appointment Holders should email Sector_Funding@ecda.gov.sg with your centre codes for information on how to submit an Expression of Interest.


ANNEX A

Frequently Asked Questions 

Preschool affordability

1. What is the Government doing to enhance preschool affordability?

The Government is pursuing three sets of measures to enhance affordability. 

First, we will enhance means-tested childcare subsidies and the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) provided to parents, by increasing the monthly household income eligibility to $12,000, and increasing the amount of subsidies provided for each eligible tier. This will take effect from 1 January 2020.

Second, we are expanding government-supported preschool places, so that parents will benefit from greater access to affordable and quality preschool services. 80 per cent of preschoolers can have a place in a government-supported preschool by around 2025, up from just over 50 per cent today. This will involve expanding the number of places provided by Partner Operators, Anchor Operators, and a small number of MOE Kindergartens.

Third, we will lower the fee caps of government-supported preschools, starting with the next term of the POP scheme from January 2021. Over the medium term, as the capacity of government-supported preschools grows, we aim to further lower fee caps at government-supported preschools so that working families with a child in full-day childcare will pay about equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees, before means-tested preschool subsidies.


2. How long will the new fee caps be in place for?

The new fee caps will be in place for the entire upcoming five-year term of childcare POP scheme, from 2021 to 2025.

Childcare Partner Operator (POP) scheme

1. When does the current term of the POP scheme end?

The current POP term will end in December 2020.


2. Has ECDA set a target on the number of operators/centres to appoint to the new term of the POP scheme?

We aim to appoint a larger number of POP childcare centres for the new term, compared to the current 250 centres. However, the eventual number of operators/centres appointed will depend on the quality of operators/centres that apply. We encourage all affordable and quality childcare operators to submit applications to join the scheme.


3. Will ECDA allow appointed POPs to open new centres during the funding term in order to benefit more parents?

Addition of new centres will be evaluated by ECDA on a case-by-case basis.


4. Will all existing POP centres be automatically appointed onto the next term of the POP scheme? Is there any difference in the application process between operators on the existing POP scheme, and operators who are not?

No, all interested operators (new and existing) will be required to follow the same application procedure. ECDA will evaluate all applications objectively and fairly. 

5. What are the possible reasons for an existing POP centre to not be appointed to the next term of the scheme?

Some existing POP operators may choose not to continue with the scheme due to business considerations. All centres, including existing POP centres, must also fare well in the evaluation to be appointed onto the next term of the scheme.


Expression of Interest (EOI) application details

1. Will ECDA open another round of EOI for operators to join the POP scheme mid-term?

We encourage all interested operators to submit applications during this EOI exercise. ECDA will monitor the implementation of the scheme before considering whether another around of EOI would be necessary.

2. Can operators apply for some – but not all – of their centres to join the POP scheme?

Operators may choose for a selected number of their centres to join the scheme.

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