Pilot Program Launches: Childminding Services for Infants Up to 18 Months

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March 7, 2024 — Improved child care choices are a priority for the Singaporean government. The MSF, or Ministry of Social and Family Development, will be in charge of this. MSF has announced the start of a childminding service pilot program. This new service is for families with infants aged two to 18 months. It supplements traditional centre-based infant care.

The pilot will run for three years. It aims to support 500 children in its first year. After that, it plans to reach 700 children. This initiative is a big step. It revives the tradition of childminding in Singapore. It was common in the 1970s and 1980s but has since declined.

Minister of State Sun Xueling highlighted the challenges faced by modern parents. They struggle to find childminding services that are both reliable and affordable. In response, the government will run a pilot programme. It will offer a competitive rate of about S$700 (US$520) per month. This rate aligns with the costs of anchor operator infant care centres. This pricing strategy aims to make childminding accessible to median-income families. They currently enjoy big subsidies for infant care.

The pilot programme introduces a structured framework for childminding. The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will oversee the appointment of operators. The operators are responsible for hiring childminders. These childminders will have permission to care for up to three infants at once. They can do so in their homes or in designated community spaces. The spaces are in areas with high demand for infant care.

To keep the infants safe, we will put in place strict service requirements. We will also have child-safe guidelines. Operators must show childminder profiles to parents. They must also ensure that all childminders get proper infant care training. Additionally, the government will conduct thorough background checks on both operators and childcare providers. They will also collaborate with ECDA to set industry standards.

This pilot programme offers parents a different childcare option. It also stresses the importance of flexibility and individualised care. Unlike infant care centres, childminding services offer more personal attention. They can also accommodate flexible hours, including care for sick infants.

The sector is growing. MSF wants to make childminding a safe and reliable childcare option for more parents. The ministry commits to establishing baseline service standards. But it also wants to keep the diversity of services in the childminding sector.

Further details on the childminding service pilot will be shared in the latter half of 2024, as MSF continues to engage with parents, childminders, and operators to refine and enhance the program. This initiative is a big step. It will address the changing childcare needs of Singaporean families. It will ensure that parents have access to more affordable and quality childcare.

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