YET ANOTHER PRESCHOOL FEE INCREASED: IS CHILDCARE AFFORDABLE REALLY?

I refer to the article “THE LEARNING CAMPUS PRESCHOOL INCREASE FEES BY 25% FOR 2016 ENROLMENT (allsingaporestuff.com, Oct 4).

It states that “I saw your post on YMCA childcare increase price after My First Skool hike. The damage was done, my kids childcare The Learning Campus also price hike from 700+ to 900+ after subsidy.

Current full day fee (published rate before subsidy) is $980. The revised fee wef January 2016 is $1230. It is a hike of 25%!!!! Private childcare is following suit with hike, if I recall my first skool increment was also around close to 25%?”

Childcare is affordable?

In the Parliamentary speech for the MSF Committee of Supply 2015 on 13 March – it was said that “11. Let me provide some updates on the affordability issue. The enhanced subsidies have helped to reduce the out of pocket costs for lower and middle income families. 31,000 children have since benefitted from the additional subsidies with the lowest income tier being as low as $3 a month for full day child care services. And 10,000 children have benefitted from KiFAS since January this year. Low income families pay as little as $1 to 2 per month for Kindergarten services.

12. Mr Pritam Singh asked about the fee schedules for those who want to increase their fees. ECDA has strict control over the Anchor Operators. But the best way to check the price and profiteering is not to micromanage because ultimately the centres are still private entities. But the best way, is to make sure we have sufficient quality, affordable options in the market.”

Since “ECDA has strict control over the Anchor Operators” – why have fees increased by so much, with one of them increasing fees for the third year running, despite a 46 per cent increase in profits to $9.5 million?

For example, a family with two children and household income of $3,501 to $4,000 or household per capita income of $876 to $1,000 gets a maximum subsidy of $610 (basic subsidy $300 + maximum additional subsidy cap $310), for full-day childcare.

With the increase of $250 mentioned in the above mentioned article – the parents may have to pay as much as $500 more for their two children.

With say a take home pay of $2,801 ($3,501 less 20% employee CPF contribution) – the fees increase may be financially difficult for them.

Even in the case of the fee cap for anchor operators of $720 a month for full-day childcare – an increase of say about $71 for the family with two children, may also be a financial strain.

Whats the point of increasing subsidies coupled with the consistent rhetoric year after year – that childcare will be made more affordable, when the reality may be otherwise?

Reciprocate trust with more transparency?

Since the people have given their trust and mandate – shouldn’t we reciprocate by being more transparent?

We should also spend more to help Singaporeans.

Leong Sze Hian

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