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    Mar 14, 2014

    More families to enjoy preschool subsidies

    MORE help will be given to low-income and middle-income families with young children, including those with special needs.

    The Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) will, from January next year, be extended to households earning up to $6,000 per month, announced Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in Parliament yesterday.

    This is almost twice the current income ceiling of $3,500.

    Lower-income families will be granted higher subsidies, of up to $160 in fee assistance per month, compared with $108 today.

    This could mean that some families could potentially pay as little as $1 in fees per month.

    "Even if they cannot pay the $1, $2 or $3, community leaders will find ways to raise that amount... so that every child will get a good start," said Mr Chan.

    About 17,000 children will benefit with this change. This works out to be one in two children, up from one in three presently.

    About $20 million a year will be set aside for KiFAS, double the existing amount.

    Young children with moderate to severe disabilities, including cerebral palsy, will also be given more assistance, with the Government setting aside $32 million yearly for the Early Intervention Programme For Infants And Children (Eipic).

    Eipic provides educational and therapy services for children aged six years and below who are at risk of having developmental issues.

    From October, all Singaporean children enrolled in Eipic will receive a $500 base subsidy, announced Parliamentary Secretary for Social and Family Development Low Yen Ling. The subsidy is $300 now.

    In addition, more families will be eligible for additional subsidies as the per capita income cap will be raised from $1,500 to $3,000.

    This would mean that 80 per cent of the households registered with the programme will receive the subsidies.

    Disabled people will receive more help in transport as well.

    The Government will set aside $24 million a year to offer three new transport schemes, which are expected to benefit over 50,000 persons with disabilities.

    One such scheme is taxi subsidies for those who are working or attending school, but are unable to take public transport.

    From October, the Government will also subsidise up to 50 per cent of fares for those with a per capita income of $1,800 or less.