Better Support for Parents of Preschoolers and the Early Childhood Sector
05 Mar 2019
1. As part of our ongoing review of preschool subsidy schemes and processes, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will be making the following changes.
Enhancing Child Care Subsidy Support for Non-Working Mothers
2. From March 2019, ECDA will provide better support for non-working mothers who are in the midst of seeking employment as well as those who are full-time caregivers for their younger children.
3. To help families with child care expenses, non-working mothers are eligible for a monthly Basic Subsidy of $150. Working mothers1 are eligible for Basic Subsidy of $300, as well as means-tested Additional Subsidies2.
4. On a case-by-case basis, ECDA provides higher subsidies to non-working mothers, under Special Approval. For example, non-working mothers who require child care services when they are in the midst of seeking employment, as well as mothers who are unable to work due to medical reasons or caregiving commitments3, are considered for higher subsidy support.
2Only households with monthly household income of $7,500 and below, or Per Capita Income of $1,875 and below are eligible for Additional Subsidy.
3Refer to Annex A for a summary of child care subsidies available, based on the working status of the mother.
5. To better support job-seeking mothers and mothers of preschool children who are caring full-time for a younger child, ECDA will extend Additional Subsidies to them and lengthen the duration for which these mothers may receive more subsidies for child care. This will apply to new applications for Special Approval received from 1 March 2019 onwards. The table below illustrates.
Table 1: Enhanced Subsidy Support for Non-Working Mothers under Special Approval
6. These enhancements are expected to benefit around 5,000 families every year.
Greater Certainty for Parents Receiving Subsidies
7. Currently, ECDA verifies the working status of mothers annually, in order to review and update infant or child care subsidies that preschool children receive.
8. From this year, ECDA will verify the working status of mothers, as well as their household incomes: (i) at the point of preschool enrolment, (ii) upon a change in programme (i.e. from infant care to child care), and (iii) 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.
9. 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 care-giving responsibilities. It will also reduce the administrative burden on parents as well as preschools who assist in administering the subsidies.
Greater Convenience for Parents and Preschools - Streamlined Subsidy Application and Administrative Processes
10. As part of the Early Childhood Industry Transformation Map4, ECDA will introduce an enhanced centre management system, or CMS, to the sector this year. This new IT platform will bring greater convenience to parents and preschools by simplifying applications for subsidy and financial assistance, as well as other
administrative processes such as licence application and child enrolment.
11. Parents will only need to fill in one form to apply for the various subsidies and financial assistance available, down from the current three. Preschools will also benefit from less manual processing and will no longer need to retain copies of birth certificates and NRICs for subsidy applications. This smoothens service delivery and boosts sector productivity, benefiting around 20,000 new families applying for subsidy applications every year.
Promoting Occupational Health and Safety for Preschool Staff
12. To improve the health and well-being of staff working in preschools, ECDA and the Health Promotion Board will commission an occupational health and safety assessment for the Early Childhood sector later this year.
13. As part of this assessment, a panel of experts will develop resources to promote occupational health and safety, as well as make recommendations to enhance Human Resources (HR) practices and working conditions in preschools. This initiative is in line with ongoing industry transformation efforts to raise productivity and uplift our Early Childhood professionals, who are at the heart of good quality preschool services.
EXISTING CHILD/INFANT CARE SUBSIDIES BY WORKING STATUS
* The amount of Additional Subsidy is dependent on the household/ per capita income level. Households with monthly household income of $7,500 and below, or Per Capita Income of $1,875 and below are eligible for Additional Subsidy.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. How is household income determined for Additional Subsidy? If the mother is not working, how will it be calculated?
The monthly household income is based on the gross combined income of both parents. If the mother is not working, the household income will be based on the single income of the other parent. For larger families with 5 or more members, with more than 2 dependants who are not earning an income, Additional Subsidy will be computed based on Per Capita Income, or PCI. This enables larger families to qualify for more subsidy support.
2. Does the enhanced subsidy support under Special Approval apply for infant care too?
Yes, the enhanced subsidy support under Special Approval applies for infant care. Parents will receive Basic and Additional Subsidy under the infant care subsidy framework, i.e. $600 per month for Basic Subsidy, and up to $540 for Additional Subsidy.
3. How much subsidy will be provided for the older child in child care, if a non-working mother is caring for multiple younger siblings under 24
A mother who is caring for younger children below 24 months old, will receive the same subsidies for her older children enrolled in child care, regardless of the number of younger children she is caring for.
Larger families may apply for Additional Subsidy to be computed based on Per Capita Income, or PCI, instead of Household Income.
4. Are single parents eligible for child care subsidies?
Yes, subsidies are applicable to single parents. The household income will be determined accordingly, based on the single income of the parent.
5. Will parents of children enrolled in child care who are already receiving subsidies automatically benefit from the subsidy enhancements?
The subsidy enhancements will be applied to all new Special Approval applications received from 1 March 2019 onwards. Where feasible, ECDA will reach out to parents who are currently already receiving support under Special Approval, and who continue to be eligible from 1 March 2019 onwards, to transit them onto the enhanced benefits.
6. What if the household income levels change after parents have applied for Additional Subsidy? Will the subsidy amount change?
Parents may re-submit their subsidy application to their preschool at any point in time if the household’s financial circumstances have changed. ECDA will reassess the amount of Additional Subsidy based on the latest household income.
7. What will be covered under the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment? When will ECDA share the results of the assessment?
The assessment will evaluate the work roles and environments of preschool staff, and identify organisational factors that impact their physical and mental welfare. The consultant appointed to conduct the assessment will also work with a panel of experts to propose interventions such as staff resources, training programmes, and enhancements to work environments that can improve the well-being of preschool employees. ECDA will provide more details on the joint occupational health and safety assessment at a later date.