The joy of having a child is immense and indescribable. However, it comes at a cost. As your child starts to grow by the day, the thought of sending them to a childcare centre will soon surface. Sometimes, it is to facilitate them to learn how to live in a group. Other time, it is because of a need for someone to take care of your child while you are at work. Regardless, childcare centres are pretty much a necessity for parents. If you are a newbie parent, here’s everything you need to know about childcare centres.
Types of childcare centres in Singapore
There are three types of childcare centres in Singapore: Premium, Anchor Operators and Partner Operators.
1. Premium childcare centres
Premium childcare centres are typically the ones that claim to have special teaching pedagogy. While we do not know whether those pedagogy work, we do know that it exposes your child to more learning experiences. Some premium childcare centres like MindChamps and Pat’s Schoolhouse offer bilingual classes while others offer creative learning and art classes. Premium childcare centres also come with a higher teacher-to-student ratio so that your child receives more undivided attention. Not to mention, premium childcare centres also offer primary school readiness programmes.
All these come at a premium in cost to parents. You can expect the monthly fees of premium childcare centres to be double of other types of childcare centres. It is not a surprise if they charge S$2,000 a month, which is almost half of the median monthly household income in Singapore.
2. Anchor operators
Anchor operators like Skool4Kidz are private-run childcare centres. This makes them similar to premium childcare centres. The main difference is that anchor operators receive funding support from MSF to provide good quality early childcare and education at affordable prices. Anchor operators receive funding to keep its monthly fees at a cap of S$770.40 (before GST) for full-day childcare. They are funded by the Anchor Operator Scheme (AOP).
3. Partner operators
Partner operators function in the same manner as anchor operators. For partner operators, they receive funding under The Partner Operator Scheme (POP). While anchor operators have a cap of S$770.40 on their monthly fees, partner operators’ cap is between S$856 and S$1,498.
*Note that not every childcare centre under the same brand name is under the AOP or POP scheme.
Cost of childcare in Singapore
The cost of childcare differs quite significantly depending on the brand name, type of curriculum and whether it is full or half-day. In general, it is less value-for-money to put your child in the childcare centre for half a day. P.S. Just because it is only for half a day doesn’t mean that the monthly fee is going to be half the price. In some childcare centre, it can even go up to 95% of the full-day price.
*The prices listed in this table are for Singapore citizens only. For Singapore PR or foreigners, you can expect a premium on top of the prices listed in this table.
All-you-need-to-know about the childcare
To centralize the regulation of childcare centres, ECDA was set up to manage all the childcare centres in Singapore. You can find all the information you need about each childcare centre on MSF/ECDA’s childcare centre portal. You can find out the address, operating hours, licensing history, type of food offered and the type of miscellaneous charges (e.g. uniform, deposit). It even tells you whether there are vacancies at the childcare centre. Additionally, it also allows you to register for your child online without having to make a trip down to the childcare centre. That being said, most parents will still prefer to recce the childcare centre before enrolling their child.
Subsidies for childcare
To help parents cope with the cost of childcare, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) provides subsidies for full-day childcare. This is to ensure that every parent is able to afford and get access to childcare services, especially working parents who require it.
Eligibility for childcare subsidies
To be eligible for childcare subsidies, your child needs to be a Singapore citizen. Secondly, your child needs to be enrolled in childcare centres licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA). You can find the list of ECDA licensed childcare centres on MSF website. For children with a working mother, the amount of the subsidy you can receive from MSF will be higher than those whose mother is not a working adult.
Like every other subsidy scheme, your total household income will also be taken into account to decide whether you qualify for the subsidy. There are two methods in determining whether you qualify for subsidies: Monthly Household Income method and Per Capita Income method.
Monthly household income vs Per Capita Income
Monthly household income method takes your combined monthly household income as the benchmark. This is usually more applicable for families with fewer members within the household. If you have more than four people within the household, the Per Capita Income method usually gives you a higher chance of falling within the higher subsidy range. If you are living with your parents who are not earning an income, the Per Capita Income method will also place you in a lower income range.
Per Capita Income = Total household monthly income/number of family members in the household
Note: All family members must be related by blood, marriage and/or legal adoption and living in the same residential address.
Subsidies for half-day childcare
Subsidies for full-day childcare
You can also calculate how much subsidies you can get from MSF using ECDA’s subsidy calculator here instead of doing it yourself.
How much do I pay to the childcare centre?
The childcare subsidies will be directly credited to the childcare by MSF. Thus, if you are eligible for childcare subsidies, you will just need to pay the subsidised childcare fees to the childcare centre.
Application for childcare subsidies
To apply for childcare subsidies, you will need to submit an application form to your choice of childcare centre. This is a sample of the form that you will need to fill in. You just need to submit it while enrolling your child to the childcare centre.