Single parent disillusioned with MCYS’ CFAS subsidy

TOC publishes here a letter from one of our readers:

I’m writing to you regarding a matter relating to the Centre-based Financial Assistance Scheme for Childcare (CFAC). I have been given a subsidy for my daughter’s childcare fees beginning in January 2010. I was receiving $309 a month from Jan’10 to Dec’10, as I was in school and had a monthly income of less than $1000.

I was told to declare my “net monthly income” on the application form, which was around $800. It was stated on the form that “net monthly income excludes the contribution to CPF and other allowances (e.g. shift, uniform, meal, transport allowance) that the parent does not receive on a regular basis” which I understood as the disposable income which I take home sans CPF.

(The old CFAS form is HERE.)

Thereafter, I’ve got a job which paid $3200 a month. My disposable income was now $2560. I pay $750 a month to repay my tuition fee loan. I appealed for the CFAC on the grounds that my disposable income was $1800, therefore, still within the eligibility income ceiling of $1800, and that I was a single, unmarried mother (Which means that I am not entitled to Baby Bonus).

I got a reply from the Community Development Council (CDC) with regards to my appeal, and the reply from CDC stated “the CDC has approved your application for CFAC subsidy at 50% of the last assisted rate”, and granted me $155. However, I noticed on the new application form, that “net monthly income” was sneakily changed to “gross monthly income” which was stated as income before deduction of CPF.

My monthly income is now $3500, but the latest letter from CDC states that I’m only eligible to receive a maximum of $60.

The government recently announced a review of the subsidy, and the new initiative promised that “with effect from 1 April 2011, the eligible income criteria will be revised upwards from $1,800 to $3,500” (see HERE).  And Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports (MCYS) claimed on its website that under this new scheme, the amount of subsidy received is ‘enhanced’

If you look at the table above comparing the new and old subsidy ranges, it does seem that for the same income range, the increase in the subsidy appears to be substantial.

But in reality, given almost status quo (I’m still repaying tuition fee loan amounting to $850 per month, I’m still a single, unmarried mother. I still am not entitled to Baby Bonus), except that now I am earning $300 more in salary. Why then have the amount of subsidy I receive been halved?

I also find it appalling that MCYS misled the public into thinking that they raised the income ceiling for the subsidy by a whopping $1700, when in reality, if the conditions of application were retained, the real difference is much lesser. I am utterly disillusioned.

I am raising this so that more people can be aware of the issue. I doubt if many even noticed the subtle change. I also stand to be corrected if my interpretation on the issue is wrong.

Ms Phua J

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