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If you are a parent of a toddler enrolled in childcare, you might have noticed that school fees have increased lately. Because of inflation and other economic pressures, living costs have gone up, and childcare centres are no exception. The good news is that from 1st Jan 2023, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has lowered childcare fee caps for specific childcare centres, including Sparkletots and Little Skool House. This means that the operators cannot charge beyond a certain amount. Lower fee caps mean you also pay less after subsidies from the government.
This comes in a slew of measures that the government has introduced, which include increasing pay for early childhood educators and building more childcare centres. These measures are aimed at helping make childcare more affordable and accessible to all. Apart from the new changes, what other subsidies for early childhood can Singapore citizens receive? Let’s have a quick recap.
Table of subsidies
Infant Care(2-18 months old) and Child Care (18 months to 6 years)
|Subsidy||Benefits (Per Child)||Additional information|
|Basic Child Care Subsidy||For working mothers
Infant Care: $600 / month
Child Care: $300 / month
For non-working mothers
Infant Care: $150 / month
Child Care: $150 / month
|Child must be enrolled in ECDA-licensed centre. Check the list of ECDA-licensed preschools here.|
|Additional Child Care Subsidy||Infant Care: Up to $710 / month
Child Care: $467 / month
Per household: $12,000
or per person: $3,000
Applicant must be a single parent with at least 56 hours of work per month
|Benefits (Per Child)||Additional information|
Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)
Child must be enrolled in MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten
Income ceiling per household: $12,000 before CPF deduction and including bonus, commission, overtime pay and allowance.
Per person: $3,000
(for families with 3 dependents not earning an income out of 5 or more family members )
|Start Up Grant (SUG)||Up to $240 / year||
Per household: $1,900
Or per person: $650
Types of subsidies
Here’s a closer look at the above subsidies:
Child Care Subsidies
If your child is a Singapore citizen enrolled in a full day preschool or childcare, you will get to enjoy the basic childcare subsidy. Full-day preschool is for children aged 2-18 months, while childcare is for children aged 18 months to 6 years old.
Basic Child Care Subsidy
The Basic Child Care Subsidy is a government subsidy for full-day preschool expenses for infants and children. Your child needs to be enrolled in an ECDA-licensed operator. Check the list of ECDA-licensed preschools here.
The subsidy goes to the child’s registered centre instead of the parents’ or guardians’ bank accounts. The parent or guardian then pays the fee minus the subsidy and other additional financial assistance. This subsidy amount depends on whether the applicant is employed. It also depends on whether your child is in infant or child care.
The basic subsidy for full-day infant care is S$600 per month for working applicants (also known as the working mum subsidy). For full-day child care, it’s S$300 per month. The subsidy for non-working applicants is S$150 for both.
Families with children who are Singapore citizens enrolled in infant or child care centres licensed by ECDA (Early Childhood Development Agency) are eligible to receive the Basic Child Care Subsidy. If you wonder how much preschool subsidy you can receive, you can always use the Ecda Subsidy Calculator here.
ECDA Additional Child Care Subsidy
For families who require extra financial help, there’s the ECDA Additional Subsidy. The Additional Child Care Subsidy is a means-tested subsidy for lower-income families on top of the Basic Child Care Subsidy. If you are a working mum with a gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below, you qualify for the Additional Subsidy on top of the Basic Subsidy. This subsidy gives lower-income parents peace of mind with lower preschool fees. That way, they can go to work without worrying about child care.
The subsidy can go up to $710 for infant care and $467 for child care, depending on eligibility.
The applicant must meet two requirements to qualify for the Additional Child Care Subsidy. You need to be a:
- A working applicant who is either a mother (single or not) or a single father who works minimally 56 hours per month.
- Have a gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below or per capita income of $3,000 and below for larger families. Larger families count as 5 or more family members in the same household with at least 3 dependents without income.
With special approval, the government can grant higher subsidy support for those unable to work. Here are some exceptional circumstances that may get extra subsidy support. If the applicant is:
- Not working due to looking for a job, studying, training, on a course (at least 56 hours a month), or pregnant
- Medically unfit for work because of hospitalisation, long-term illness or permanent disability
- Caring for sick or special needs family members
- Full-time caring for younger children aged 24 months and below
Non-parent caregivers may also apply if they are caring for the child as a grandparent, legal guardian or foster parent. Children under HDB’s Public Rental Scheme, ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance (SMTA) or Long-Term Assistance (LTA) will also automatically qualify for maximum preschool subsidies once Special Approval is granted.
Subsidies for Kindergarteners
If your child is between 3 to 6 years old, you can enrol them in full-day kindergarten. There are subsidies for kindergartens if your child is a Singaporean citizen. They must be enrolled in a MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten.
The Ministry of Education runs MOE kindergartens. There are currently 50 centres across Singapore. As for anchor operators, they are funded under the ECDA scheme and, therefore, also subjected to a fee cap. See the list of anchor operators here. There are two subsidies for parents enrolling their child in a full-day kindergarten.
Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)
The Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme is a means-tested subsidy that makes kindergarten programs more affordable and accessible. Like the child care subsidy, this goes directly to your child’s kindergarten. You only pay the net fee after the subsidy. You can pay the remaining amount out of your child’s Child Development Account (CDA) balance. If you wonder how much subsidy for childcare you can receive, you can always use the ECDA Subsidy Calculator.
The KiFAS support is between $17 and $161, depending on your household income. Families with a gross monthly household income of $12,000 and below or per capita income of $3,000 and below for larger families are eligible for this subsidy. Large families are five or more family members in the same household with at least three dependents without income.
KiFAS Startup Grant (SUG)
The KiFAS Startup Grant is an annual grant that helps to defray the expense of enrolling your child in kindergarten. These costs include the kindergarten’s registration fee, deposit, school uniform, insurance, education material fees and supplementary fee. The grant is capped at S$240 per year. It is eligible for Singaporean children whose families have a monthly gross household income of up to S$1,900 or gross per capita income of up to S$650.
Example of 2 childcare, Sparketots and Little Skool house fees after subsidies
Little Skool House and PCF Sparkletots are two of the largest childcare operators in Singapore. They provide affordable childcare and are among five anchor operators under ECDA. Anchor operators receive more government funding support to maintain reasonable fees and improve their education standards. With the new 2023 measures, they have to keep to a monthly fee cap of $720 and $1,275 (excluding GST) for full-day childcare and infant care, respectively, and ensure they keep any fee increases affordable for parents.
Comparison of infant school fees as an example with 2023 subsidies
Here is an example of how infant care costs from 1st Jan 2023 onwards at an anchor operator like Little Skool House or PCF Sparkletots, assuming you pay an average of $1,334 per month with GST before subsidies. Note that fees may differ between centres.
Basic subsidy: $600
Maximum additional subsidy:
Dual-income family with gross monthly household income of:
|2022 Monthly fees after subsidy||Monthly fees from 1st Jan 2023, after subsidy||
$3,000 and below
|$3,001 to $4,500||
|$4,501 to $6,000||$264||
$6,001 to $7,500
|$7,501 to $9,000||$524||
$9,001 to $10,500
|$10,501 to $12,000||$724||$700||
Besides these subsidies for childcare in Singapore, there are several other subsidies for Singapore citizens. For example, the baby bonus scheme rewards $8000 cash to first and second-born children. Then, there’s a $10,000 baby bonus cash gift for the third and following children. There is also the Child Development Account that aids in defraying costs. The CDA is a saving scheme in which the government matches dollar for dollar to any amount deposited by parents.
Additionally, several government-paid leave schemes include maternity, paternity, and childcare leave. Furthermore, employers can apply for claim reimbursements for employees who need such leave. With the additional support provided, Singapore families can endure challenging times. Therefore, parents can be assured that education for young children is still a high priority even in difficult times.
It is understandable why parents may worry about early childhood education subsidies, as the education and well-being of your children are of utmost importance. However, it is important to recognize the many resources available to families, including government subsidies and financial assistance programs. By exploring these options and seeking guidance from professionals, parents can make informed decisions that support their child’s early education and development.
Ultimately, investing in early childhood education can have a significant impact on a child’s future success and well-being, making it a worthwhile consideration for parents.
Additionally, a licensed Financial advisor can provide valuable assistance to parents who are navigating the complexities of early childhood education subsidies. They can help parents identify resources such as government subsidies, tax credits, and financial assistance programs, and create a budget that takes into account their child’s education expenses.
Also, financial advisors can offer guidance on choosing the right early childhood education program, evaluating program quality, and creating a long-term financial plan that accounts for future education expenses. By providing financial support and advice, financial advisors can help parents ensure that their child receives the education and resources they need to succeed.
It may be helpful to seek the guidance of a professional financial advisor. Such an individual can offer valuable insights on comprehensive financial planning, allowing you to make informed decisions that align with your financial goals.
Are you prepared to take action? Fill in the form below to connect with a financial advisor today, without incurring any fees!
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