Mega childcare centre opens with gift to charity

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the new E-Bridge Pre-School yesterday. With him are pre-schoolers (from left) Wang Yunhan, four; Tan Le En Eryn, three; and Jovan Pang; three.
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the new E-Bridge Pre-School yesterday. With him are pre-schoolers (from left) Wang Yunhan, four; Tan Le En Eryn, three; and Jovan Pang; three. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

A mega childcare centre officially opened yesterday, and its operator marked the event with a gift to charity. The E-Bridge Pre-School in Edgedale Plains was officially opened by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.

It has filled all its 500 places, which is five times the number offered by a typical centre in a Housing Board block.

Run by EtonHouse International, it is the first of five mega childcare centres being built by anchor operators to open. The rest - in Yishun, Woodlands, Jurong West and Sengkang - will open by year end.

Anchor operators get government grants and priority in securing sites in HDB estates, but their monthly fees cannot exceed $720 for full-day childcare.

The setting up of such large centres is part of government efforts to meet the high demand for childcare places, especially in areas with many young families, said Mr Tan.

The campus uses special technology to help reduce the transmission of infectious diseases, such as hand, foot and mouth disease.

Bank manager Andrew Lee, 36, who has two children enrolled in the centre, said: "They love it here, the sand pits and the play facilities. I think kids like big play areas."

EtonHouse Community Fund, a charity run by the operator, also pledged $100,000 to the KidStart scheme.

This is a government initiative starting later this year to give 1,000 disadvantaged children, aged up to six, learning and health support in their early years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Mega childcare centre opens with gift to charity'. Print Edition | Subscribe