Large childcare centres must meet licensing criteria too

We thank Dr Rebecca Chan for her feedback ("How will mega childcare centres affect kids' development?"; Jan 23).

The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) places a high priority on the safety, well-being and development of young children in centre-based care. All childcare centres - regardless of capacity - will need to meet our regulatory requirements in order to be licensed.

These requirements include a minimum teacher-to-child ratio to ensure adequate supervision, physical space standards, and processes to minimise disease transmission and to manage emergencies. Larger centres will have proportionally higher requirements.

Furthermore, purpose-built and larger childcare centres have more flexibility in developing learning spaces for children, such as play areas, an outdoor garden and art resource rooms.

These centres will be designed to be age-appropriate, so that even our youngest children can be cared for in a conducive and secure environment.

We also understand that operators will deploy more experienced and senior staff to enhance supervision in larger centres.

We agree with Dr Chan that good teachers are at the heart of quality early childhood care and education.

To support our teachers, we launched the Early Childhood Manpower Plan last year.

The plan builds on existing efforts to provide more opportunities for our teachers to develop professionally, to provide them with a more supportive working environment, and to promote greater public recognition and respect for the early childhood profession.

ECDA will work closely with our operators to provide a safe and quality learning environment in larger childcare centres.

Eugene Leong
Chief Executive Officer
Early Childhood Development Agency

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2017, with the headline 'Large childcare centres must meet licensing criteria too'. Print Edition | Subscribe