For most parents, choosing a childcare centre is one of the challenges of parenting a young child. Education is quite competitive. Getting a facility that does more than minding a child is critical, especially for kiasu parents. A child’s education can start at any time, and some childcare centres use preparation for preschool as a marketing strategy to attract more parents.
Although childcare centres in Singapore have different mandates, ranging from infant and childcare, to transition to preschool, there are different types. New parents need to know if they are making the right choice after analyzing the different types.
Premium Childcare Centres
Premium childcare centres tend to market themselves as doing more than care for your child. There are promises of additional services that may not be available in other childcare centres. For example, some offer bilingual classes. Young children can learn many languages, especially when taught at an early age. Some parents believe premium childcare centres give children the foundation to learn various dialects that are likely to be beneficial later in life.
Other lessons include creative learning and art classes that capture a child’s imagination. Babies are born with a clean slate. This explains the innovative ways in which children phrase their questions and out of this world imaginations that an adult cannot conceptualize.
Some of these childcare centres have advanced levels of learning which means parents don’t need to look for a school when the time comes to go to preschool. It isn’t easy to gain admission to some of these schools. Starting with the childcare centre gives parents an advantage of entry over children coming from outside.
The teacher to student ratio in premium childcare centres is also significantly lower than other centres. This ensures the child gets better attention, which subsequently reduces possibilities of accidents, which is sometimes unavoidable with little children.
Although the services offered by premium childcare centres are attractive, the cost of care is prohibitive for some parents. In some cases, the charge is almost double that of other centres. This helps the administration to control student populations, especially if they don’t have enough space for more children, or are not in a position to hire more teachers and minders to care for a large number of children.
These are private-run centres that are quite similar to premium childcare centres. The only difference is these facilities receive financial support from MSF (Ministry of Social and Family Development). This is done to ensure children get quality care at affordable rates. Anchor operators have to maintain a fixed monthly price to continue receiving funding from the government.
The Anchor Operator Scheme was initiated in 2009 and has since been modified to accommodate the changing economic situation in Singapore. The current monthly fee cap is $770 for full-day child care, $1,275 for full-day infant care, and $160 for kindergarten. These charges exclude the Goods and Services Tax (GST). These rates are much lower than what premium centres charge, which can sometimes go beyond $2000 for full-day child care.
To continue to get funding, Anchor Operators have to commit to improving early childhood care and support professional development and career advancement for the caregivers and teachers.
Partner Operators childcare centres are similar to Anchor Operators. The only difference if the monthly rate. While Anchor Operators cap their monthly price to $770 for full-day child care, Partner Operators cap between $856 and $1,498. This scheme is designed to support small and mid-size childcare operations in Singapore. The aim is to encourage higher enrolment and growth of these facilities by keeping childcare rates as low as possible.
These are the main types of childcare centres in Singapore. Although the focus of these centres has been the cost, government-supported facilities are also encouraged to compete with private centres by providing essential services, albeit at a lower rate. Knowing the differences between the childcare centres will also help parents to understand why there is a massive discrepancy in the pricing of childcare in Singapore.