Working parents with the right budget do not have to worry about their children’s well-being. In fact, childcare in Singapore is widely available — the city-state ranked 13th out of 45 countries in regard to childcare availability in the Expat Insider 2016 survey — and comes in many forms. Next to the more personal choice of employing a nanny or au pair, there are various educational programs and different childcare centers offer just the right type of care to every expat family. However, childcare in Singapore can be quite expensive: the majority of respondents with kids in Singapore voiced overall dissatisfaction with its affordability.
The age ranges of different childcare centers vary, but some accept children from two months onwards with the upper limit of all centers being seven years, when children are old enough to attend elementary school. All centers that offer childcare in Singapore, no matter if they are public or private institutions, must be licensed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (EDA). They are subject to regular inspections and have to abide by certain laws concerning staff and space. As a rule of thumb, the younger the children in a playgroup are, the more kindergarten teachers or nurses will take care of them.
Most childcare centers offer full-day and part-day programs. Some centers offering childcare in Singapore are willing to negotiate flexible arrangements if you have irregular working hours.
The goal of childcare in Singapore is mostly to provide children with a space for playing, learning, and resting while their parents are at work. The staff will paint, sing, and play with the children, and organize outdoor activities. However, while all of this appears rather trivial at first sight, childcare in Singapore follows an official curriculum. The centers organize the day accordingly.
What all centers have in common is their focus on the child’s physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development to prepare them for primary education. This is typically done by following the concept of learning through play. That way, kids pick up on basic things easily and are not overwhelmed. Often, children are divided into different groups so that babies are not disturbed by more active toddlers.
Childcare centers are privately run and therefore not subject to the control of the government when it comes to monthly fees. Moreover, centers can raise their monthly fees once per year after notifying the parents and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) by 1 October of the preceding year. Thus, monthly fees for childcare in Singapore vary greatly depending on the center your child will attend and on the type of program (full-time, part-time, etc.). Generally, fees range from 300 to 2,600 SGD each month. All this will add to your cost of living in Singapore.
As you can imagine, childcare fees tend to add up quickly, especially if you have another child attending a childcare center or a private school at the same time. That is why low-income families can apply for financial assistance through the childcare center. Unfortunately, financial aid is often only available to Singaporean families. Please check with the childcare center of your choice if this is the case.
Childcare in Singapore is available up to the age of seven. The minimum age, however, differs depending on the center of choice that may or may not offer infant care. Unfortunately, not all centers are equipped to provide care to the very little ones. The minimum entry age is, thus, around 2 months at the very least. Most children begin to attend a childcare center at the age of 18 months.
However, there are other requirements as well. In order to prevent diseases from spreading in the childcare centers, children have to receive immunization as stipulated by the Childcare Regulations. All childcare centers are subject to this regulation. In order to find out which type of immunization your child requires, please get in touch with your childcare provider and/or your doctor in Singapore. The Singapore Health Promotion Board has a great chart as well.
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