Budget 2013: Childcare places for one in two children

Soon, your preschooler may attend a childcare centre built in a hawker centre. The Government is looking into locating childcare centres with other facilities, as it ramps up the building of childcare centres ahead of demand.

By 2017, there will be enough full-day childcare places for at least one in two children, up from one in three children today. Some 20,000 more places will be made available over the five years to meet this target, said Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Thursday.

The ministry had announced last year that it would build 200 childcare centres and kindergartens by 2018.

Currently, most childcare centres are built beneath void decks, but such spaces are fast running out. Mr Chan said his Ministry will explore options, such as converting disused facilities - like swimming pools and bus interchanges - and locating childcare centres with other facilities.

For instance, a childcare centre will soon be operating from a hawker centre in Woodlands, he said. Some childcare centres in Sengkang and Tanjong Pagar are already located in carparks. There is also a childcare centre in Bukit Merah that is converted from a former swimming pool.

Separately, Mr Chan also announced that the Early Childhood Development Agency will be formed on April 1. Meant to drive improvements across the pre-school sector, it will combine pre-school teams in MOE and the MSF, and be overseen by both ministries.