Committed to making Singapore a great place for families

A parent holding his child's hand after fetching her from the childcare centre.
A parent holding his child's hand after fetching her from the childcare centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Dr Ho Ting Fei, Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan and Ms Yeo Miu Ean for their suggestions on strengthening parental support (Pay attention to real needs of young parents, April 26; More support needed to nudge young couples towards parenthood; and More help needed for mums returning to work, both on May 1).

We recognise that young couples aspire to achieve many life goals, including being good parents and succeeding at work.

Over the years, the Government has taken steps to support Singaporeans in their parenthood journey. Some initiatives are carried out with the community, including voluntary welfare organisations and employers.

Parental leave schemes have been enhanced progressively. Parents now have up to 22 weeks of paid leave in their child's first year and six days of childcare leave annually.

About 230,000 employees work in companies that have adopted the Tripartite Standard on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs.

Flexible work arrangements (FWAs) are also more commonplace. About nine in 10 employees are in companies that provide at least unplanned time off, ad hoc teleworking, or both.

To encourage FWA adoption, the Government has set aside $100 million for the enhanced Work-Life Grant. About 400,000 employees work in companies which have adopted the Tripartite Standard on FWAs.

Parents who have taken time out from their careers to be stay-home mums or dads, and are looking to return to work, can tap services and programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative.

The MyCareersFuture.sg portal enables job seekers to search for jobs that are supported by schemes such as Career Trial, which especially help returning mums.

Access to quality and affordable childcare has improved. There will be 30,000 more full-day pre-school places by 2023. The Early Childhood Development Agency is reviewing pre-school subsidies.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Code of Accessibility requires buildings frequented by families to have family-friendly facilities, including lactation rooms.

The BCA Accessibility Fund further provides grants for the construction of these features.

Notwithstanding the progress, the Government recognises that more can be done. We are committed to partnering with Singaporeans to make Singapore a great place for families.

We welcome all to contribute their suggestions at Heybaby.sg/PlayAPart.

Fereen Liew (Dr)

Director, Marriage and Parenthood Directorate

National Population and Talent Division

Strategy Group, Prime Minister's Office

Lee Pak Sing

Divisional Director, Workplace Policy and Strategy Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Committed to making Singapore a great place for families'. Print Edition | Subscribe