Help for coping with fee hike at pre-schools
LAST week, NTUC's My First Skool and the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), the two largest pre-school operators here, were reported to be raising fees.
Both will raise monthly childcare fees at most of their centres next year, by an average of $34 for My First Skool and $28 for PCF.
For infant care, My First Skool will raise fees by $14 on average, while PCF will charge $48 more.
My First Skool and PCF, appointed as anchor operators catering to the mass market, said the new fees will generally be lower than the maximum allowed for them.
Anchor operators get government grants. But they cannot charge more than $720 a month for full-day childcare and $1,275 a month for full-day infant care, before goods and services tax. This is below the industry median fee of $900 and $1,343 for the services respectively.
In light of the fee hike, there is help available for parents to defray some of the costs.
CHILDCARE / INFANT CARE SUBSIDY
All parents with Singaporean children enrolled in childcare centres licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency will be eligible for a basic subsidy of up to $600 for infant care and $300 for childcare.
Additional subsidies are also disbursed for a mother who works 56 hours or more per month and whose gross family household income is $7,500 and below. The additional subsidy is between $100 and $440 for child care, and between $200 and $540 for infant care, depending on household income levels.
Other than subsidies, parents can also use the money from the Child Development Account (CDA) to help pay for their children's education.
The Government also matches the deposits in the CDA of up to $6,000 for the first and second child and $12,000 for the third and fourth child.
KINDERGARTEN FEE ASSISTANCE SCHEME (KiFAS)
KiFAS is open to parents whose gross monthly household salary is $6,000 and below, with a Singaporean child enrolled in a kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery programme in kindergartens operated by anchor operators or the Ministry of Education.
Lower income families will get more support - up to $170 in fee assistance per month. KiFAS applications can be made through a child's kindergarten.
An application form can be requested at the kindergarten. The application will also require parents' identity cards and pay slips, as well as the birth certificate of the child.
The writer is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Get.com, a comparison website for financial products.
This article first appeared on Get.com.