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Partner Operator Scheme (POP)

ECDA PARTNER OPERATOR SCHEME (POP)​​

The Partner Operator (POP) scheme supports appointed centres to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of childcare and infant care services. The scheme commenced in 2016. ECDA has appointed 324 childcare centres to the new term of this POP scheme (2021-2025). For the new term of the POP scheme (2021-2025), operators will receive funding to:

  1. Keep to a monthly fee cap of $760 and $1,330 (excluding GST) for full-day child care and infant care programme respectively for Singapore Citizen (SC) children, and ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.
  2. Invest in improving quality through the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework(SPARK), and ​in strengthening organisational capabilities.
  3. Support continuing professional development opportunities for centre leaders and preschool educators.

More information is available in the news article.
For further enquiries, please contact sector_funding@ecda.gov.sg​ or call our hotline at 67359213.

 

Overview of Preschool Affordability

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

First, we have enhanced means-tested childcare subsidies and the Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) provided to parents, by increasing the monthly household income eligibility to $12,000 from $7,500 (for childcare) or $6,000 (KiFAS); and increasing the amount of subsidy provided for each eligible tier. This took 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 Partner Operator scheme from 1 January 2021. Over the medium term, as the capacity of government-supported preschools grows, we aim to lower fee caps further at government-supported preschools so that working families with a child in full-day childcare will, after Basic Subsidy, 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.

Childcare Partner Operator (POP) Scheme

The previous POP term commenced in January 2016 and ended in December 2020. The current POP term will commence in January 2021 and will end in December 2025.
ECDA aimed 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 was contingent on the suitability of the operators/centres to meet the requirements of the POP scheme in providing accessible, affordable and quality preschool services in areas of demand.
All interested operators, whether new or existing POP, were required to follow the same open competitive process. ECDA evaluated all applications objectively and centres must fare well in the evaluation to be appointed or re-appointed onto the next term of the scheme.
ECDA conducted an open and competitive call for applicants to join the second term of POP. ECDA’s selection process took into account the relative suitability of operators and centres against multiple factors such as track record, financial sustainability, accessibility of centres, and local preschool demand. The appointment of centres can change from term to term depending on factors such as the other centres offered by applicants and changes in local demand.
All POP centres must keep their fees within the fee caps under the POP scheme. The fee caps applies to full/half-day childcareor infant care programmes for Singaporean children and are illustrated below:
Programme Fee Caps (before GST)
2016-2020
Fee Caps (before GST)
2021-2025​
Full day child care $800 $760
Half day child care $600 $570
Full day infant care $1,400 $1,330
Half day infant care $1,000 $950
The new fee caps will be in place for the entire five-year term of the Partner Operator scheme, from 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2025.
POP centres are required to keep their fees within the fee caps throughout the POP term’s entire duration. POP centres which are charging at the fee caps are not permitted to raise fees during the POP term.

POP centres which are charging below the fee caps are not permitted to raise fees for at least 2021. Any fee increase thereafter is subject to the fee cap (centres may have to do so to cope with rising costs and ensure long-term financial sustainability). Should these centres do so, they must ensure that any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.

List of Child Care Partner Operators