Government Announces Key Preschool Moves to Better Support Families and Boost Early Childhood Careers
29 Oct 2022
At the Early Childhood Celebrations 2022, Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Masagos Zulkifli announced key preschool moves to better support families with young children and enhance career proposition for early childhood (EC) educators in preschools. These moves build on the Early Childhood Development Agency’s (ECDA) ongoing efforts to improve access to quality and affordable preschools, and give every child a good start.
More Government-Supported Preschool Places
2. Over the next two years, ECDA will work with the five Anchor Operators (AOPs) to provide an additional 22,000 full-day preschool places (see Annex A for the five AOPs). Of these, about 2,800 places and 4,400 places will be set aside for infant care and playgroup respectively to address the growing demand for preschool services at the younger ages. This move is part of ECDA’s continual efforts to grow the number of Government-supported preschool places so that 80% of preschoolers can have a place in a Government-supported preschool by around 2025, up from just over 60% today.
Lowered Fee Caps at Anchor and Partner Operators
3. The Government will make preschools more affordable by lowering fee caps at centres appointed under the AOP and Partner Operator (POP) schemes (see Annex B for the POPs). Fee caps for Singapore Citizen children will be lowered from 1 January 2023 as follows (see Annex C for illustration of savings for families):
a. Full-day childcare fee caps for AOP and POP centres will be lowered by $40 to $680 and $720 (excluding GST) per month respectively.
b. Full-day infant care fee caps for AOP and POP centres will be lowered by $40 to $1,235 and $1,290 (excluding GST) per month respectively.
c. Kindergarten fee caps for AOP centres will be lowered by $10 to $150 (excluding GST) per month.
4. Around 100,000 Singapore Citizen children will benefit from the lowered fee caps. As ECDA grows the capacity of Government-supported preschools over the medium term, we aim to lower further fee caps at these preschools so that dual-income families with a child in full-day childcare will pay around the equivalent of primary school fees plus after-school student care fees, before means-tested preschool subsidies.
Competitive Salaries for Early Childhood (EC) Educators
5. EC educators play a critical role in driving the quality of the education and care for young children. To support the growing EC sector, the 23,000-strong EC workforce will require over 3,500 more educators by 2025. In addition, the demands on EC educators have become greater and more complex, requiring them to develop a wider range of competencies and deeper skills.
6. ECDA has conducted a review of the salaries of EC educators to ensure their salaries correspond with their contributions and professional skills, as well as enable efforts to attract and retain talent to support the sector’s continued growth. ECDA will work with Government-supported preschools to raise the salaries of EC educators. EC educators and leaders working in AOP centres can expect a total increase of 10% – 30% in their gross monthly salaries over the next two years, with better performers receiving higher increases. With these increases, a Preschool Educator in an AOP preschool can expect to receive a gross monthly salary ranging from $2,900 to $6,600 by 2024, depending on his/her experience, skills and work performance (see Annex D for the expected salary ranges of other job roles).
7. ECDA will also work with AOPs to attract more individuals to join the EC sector. Fresh graduates and new mid-career entrants graduating with an ECDA approved EC diploma joining an AOP can expect a starting salary of at least $2,800 per month in 2023, up from about $2,600 in 2022.
8. Educators must take charge of their own professional development. Growing in skills and competencies, as well as taking on larger and more complex job roles will in turn enhance career and salary prospects. The AOPs have put in place structured development programmes to support the growth and development of their educators and leaders. Educators and leaders from non- Government-supported preschools may continue to tap on ECDA initiatives such as the Professional Development Programmes for their professional development.
Better Working Conditions for EC Educators
9. ECDA is also committed to improving educators’ well-being and working environment. Together with the sector, ECDA has developed a HR Good Practices Guide for operators and preschool leaders to provide tips on ways to improve their educators’ working conditions and create a positive work culture. The Guide includes ideas to set aside non-contact time (i.e. time spent outside the classroom) to hone professional practice, leverage technology to improve productivity, and support mentoring and professional development of educators. The Guide can be found on ECDA’s website.
10. ECDA has conducted surveys and engagements with EC educators to better understand their challenges at the workplace. Ideas raised by participants include reviewing the requirement for childcare centres to operate on Saturdays for better work-life balance, increasing non-contact time to allow for personal respite and professional reflection, and growing a pool of relief staff to better enable educators to take time off to attend to their personal and professional needs. ECDA will engage EC educators, operators and parents in the coming months to co-develop solutions to make our preschools a better workplace for our educators, while considering the different needs of the stakeholders. ECDA hopes to share the outcomes of these efforts by mid-2023.
A Good Start for Every Child
11. The Government is committed to improving access to affordable and quality preschool services so that every child can have a good start to life. The Government’s annual spending on the early childhood sector has increased from $1 billion in 2018 to $1.8 billion in 2021. We expect this spending to double over the next few years.
Please refer to the Annex A-D here.
Early Childhood Development Agency