SINGAPORE: A total of 324 childcare centres have been appointed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) for the next term of the Partner Operator (POP) scheme, a 30 per cent increase compared to the current term, the agency said on Wednesday (Nov 25).
Under the new five-year POP term, ECDA will provide funding support to appointed centres to “improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of childcare and infant care services”, said the agency in a press release.
The current POP term started in January 2016 and will end in December this year. The new term will commence in January next year and ends in December 2025.
LOWER FEE CAPS
The funding support will enable appointed centres to lower fee caps for Singaporean children and ensure any fee increases are “kept affordable” for parents, said the ECDA.
The fee caps for POP centres will be lowered in the new term – from S$800 per month to S$760 per month for full day childcare, and from S$1,400 per month to S$1,330 per month for infant care services.
For example, a centre currently on the POP scheme charges the maximum of S$856 (S$800 cap, plus GST) for full day childcare. Under the new POP term, the centre will have to lower its fees to a maximum of S$813 per month (S$760 cap, plus GST).
If a centre that is currently not on the POP scheme charges S$1,070 per month for full day childcare, they will be required to lower their fees to a maximum of S$813 per month if they are appointed for the next term.
ECDA said the funding support will help appointed centres invest in improving centre quality through efforts such as attaining certification under the Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework and strengthening organisational capabilities.
The funding will also support moves to attract and retain talent in the sector, by investing in continuing professional development for centre leaders and pre-school educators, the agency added.
7,000 MORE CHILDREN EXPECTED TO BENEFIT
The 324 centres are run by 29 operators or consortia, seven of which are new to the scheme.
“On the whole, they comprise a diversity of commercial and not-for-profit operators – with centres in locations all across Singapore – and thus provide choice for parents,” said ECDA.
More than 27,000 Singaporean children are expected to benefit from the expanded scheme, the agency said, adding that this is 7,000 (35 per cent) more than the current term of the POP scheme.
The ECDA had in November 2019 launched a call for applications from childcare operators for the next term of the POP scheme.
The agency said it received 52 applications from operators or consortia to join the next term of the scheme.
“Applications were received from a range of commercial and not-for-profit operators, including operators on the current term of POP scheme,” said the ECDA.