Child care is a significant concern for many parents, especially in families where both parents work. You can find a variety of childcare options and facilities in Singapore, and while citizens are eligible for a certain amount of subsidisation in health care as well as child care, foreigners and expats usually need to pay full fees for all types of child care services. Let’s get an overview of how child care works in Singapore.
Care for New-Borns
Childbirth is a life changing event for the parents, and as such, many parents, especially new parents, opt for a confinement nanny to help during the first few months of child birth. The first few weeks after birth involve a strict regimentation both for the mum as well as baby. This includes a healthy and nourishing diet for the mum, enough rest for both, and a host of other dos and don’ts.The mother not only has to deal with this sudden change in routine, but also with drastic physical and emotional changes. Having help from a qualified nanny or helper during this demanding period can be a boon, especially for those who do not have a local family support network.
A confinement nanny is primarily a childcare worker, but helps with a variety of tasks, from caring for the baby, for the mother, cooking healthy and nutritious food, as well as undertaking daily household chores. It is relatively common among new parents, especially within the expat community in Singapore, to hire a confinement nanny after child birth. As such, you can find a number of agencies that can supply qualified and experienced nannies.
Child Care Centres
With the increasing number of working couples, child care is a booming business opportunity in Singapore. As such, there are numerous licensed child care centres to choose from. Only child care centres or facilities approved and licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development are allowed to operate within the country.
To be licensed the enterprise must meet the prescribed standards of safety, hygiene, health, physical environment, nutrition, programme and curriculum, staff training, and administration.
Infant and Toddler Care
Child care centres cater to children up to the age of kindergarten or nursery. If you are looking for child care for your baby or toddler, it is important to find a centre that is specially qualified to care for very young children. There are special child care centres that specialise in, or have the option of toddler and infant care for children from 2 to 18 months of age.
These facilities are required to possess well trained infant care staff, as well as the Fundamentals Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education or the Certificate in infant/toddler Care. Infant care staff must also have a valid first aid certificate.
Another important fact for parents to be aware of is that the maximum officially allowed staff to infant/toddler ratio for these child care centres is no more than 1 to 5. Any centre operating outside these norms or without certification is of course best avoided.
Child Care Centre Fees
Child care centres are private enterprises, and as such there is no regulation on how much they can charge customers. However, the government does require child care centres to give parents a notice of three months for any revision in fees.
Most centres offer a full day care service, a half day service, or an hourly service. Additionally some centres also offer after school care services. Prices can vary quite widely from one centre to the next, depending on where it is located, the type of service, etc.; the best way to find the centre that suits your lifestyle and budget is to shop around a bit before registering at a particular centre.
Also, how much you actually pay will depend on the amount of government subsidy you may be eligible to receive.
Child care centres apply for subsidies on behalf of parents. You are required to disclose all relevant details about you and your spouse to the centre while registering and provide certain documents for the application for subsidies. These include your child’s birth certificate, and proof of citizenship if applicable.
You can find more information about licensed child care services, eligibility criteria for government subsidies for child care, and much more at the official MSF child care website.