My speech in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
Childcare is one of the biggest concerns of parents with young children. Many still face long waiting lists when registering their children and may end up having to settle for more expensive centres situated further from their homes. For this reason, I am looking forward to the 200 new childcare centres that are in the pipeline over the next 5 years.
While a lot of focus is on childcare, and rightly so, the government also needs to invest more resources into improving the supply, accessibility, affordability and quality of student care.
Childcare needs do not suddenly change when a child enters Primary One; parents still need to work and the child is still unable to care for himself. Student care should be seen as a natural extension of childcare. This will help both parents to remain in the workforce and reduce the demand for foreign maids, while providing a safe and nurturing environment for the children.
I would like to suggest that student care be brought under the purview of the Early Childhood Development Agency, so that the government can better regulate and promote the sector.
I welcome the government’s move to increase the number of school-based student care centres (SCCs). However, SCCs should not only be set up within schools, as parents with children attending different schools will have to rush to multiple locations to pick up their kids after work before the 7pm closing time.
Some of the new SCCs should be located in housing estates and near MRT stations, to make them more accessible. The government should also provide subsidies for student care, in addition to the ComCare fee assistance for the low-income, just like it does for childcare, as this will ease the financial burdens on many middle-income families.