Make Childcare Services Affordable

Shin Min recently reported that a father of three, aged 8, 3 and 2, griped about a 20% increase in the monthly full-day childcare fees next year.

With two younger children requiring full-day childcare services, it will cost Mr Wong, 40, who is working in the financial sector, more than $2,000 per month next year. He feels that it is financially unbearable.

Currently, two of his children are under the care of KiddiWinkie childcare centre, at $840 per month each.

Mr Wong told Shin Min that he was recently informed of the 20% increase in the monthly full-day childcare fees when he picked up his kids.

From January 2015, he will have to fork out $2,016 per month for childcare expenses alone. This is a 20% increase over the current $1,680 he is paying for his 2 younger kids.

“It’s unbearable!” Mr Wong cried out.

Mr Wong said he considered switching to another childcare centre, but there were not many near his home and work place. Furthermore, the childcare centres that he had approached also planned to raise their fees.

He opined that the cost of raising kids in Singapore has increased steeply. Lower income families may have higher subsidies, but the government should also pay attention to the sandwiched class like him who are in the middle income bracket.

Eso Masood, Director of Policy and Corporate Development, Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), responded to Mr Wong’s story thus:

Childcare fees are expected to be raised regularly by childcare centres. This is necessary for them to match the operational costs and to recruit and retain teachers to provide quality programs.

Early Childhood Development Agency provides a standard guidelines for childcare fees to ensure that changes are made in a transparent manner. It has also mandated that all childcare centres need to inform parents three months in advance for any changes in fees.

In addition, childcare centres are advised to explain the changes in fees to parents and to work together with those that have financial difficulties to resolve the matter.

KiddiWinkie is part of the Nurture Education Group which runs a number of childcare centres. Nurture co-chief executive Matthias Koh in his response to media queries, confirmed that fees will be increased from January next year and parents have been notified by letters sent out in October 2014, in tune with ECDA’s guideline of informing parents 3 months in advance for fee changes.

Mr Koh justified the increase by saying there had not been any fee adjustments for more than 2 years since March 2012, and the key factor this time is a 100% hike in rent. In fact, the fee of $1,008 per month per kid after the increase, is already a preferential rate for existing kids in the centre. New applicants will be charged $1,500 per month. Mr Koh claimed that compared with other childcare centres the fees charged by KiddiWinkie are in the lower range.

Indeed, this is a reality check on the cost of living in Singapore especially for the sandwiched class of middle income Singaporeans.



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