2 mega childcare centers will open in Sengkang and Punggol by the middle of next year, which will open up more than 1,000 places for children of parents residing in those areas.

The Sengkang center will be run by NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool, while E-Bridge Pre-School will run the one in Punggol. Construction has begun at the Sengkang center, work will begin at the Punggol site next week.

Both are anchor operators appointed by the Early Childhood Development Agency. Anchor operators get government grants and priority in securing sites at Housing Board estates to set up centres, but must keep fees below $720 a month, among other conditions.

Each of the two new centres will have a capacity of 500, well above the average of 100 for a typical centre in a HDB void deck.

Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said the increased capacity of these “mega centres” was “very significant”.

“Sengkang in particular is a very young estate, and there are a lot of new flats developing here. This will be very welcome by the young families in this area.”

On top of My First Skool’s regular curriculum, the 2,500 sq m centre will focus on giving children an early start in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem).

Ms Thian Ai Ling, My First Skool’s deputy general manager, said it is exploring Stem-related facilities such as gardens for children to do outdoor project work, and a solar panel roof to teach them about sustainable energy.

The Sengkang site will also host an early intervention centre by the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (Awwa), the first of its kind here to be co-located with a childcare centre. The Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children centre will serve up to 300 children with special needs, who will visit the centre for therapy services.

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