Where do we draw the line between allowing pre-school teachers to leave work on time and preventing parents from abusing their rights to pick up their children at a later time (More childcare centres impose fine on parents late to fetch kids; Feb 23, and Get teachers to work in shifts, by Mr Tan Ah Ung; Feb 27)?
While it might not be the best strategy to impose fines on parents who arrive late to pick up their children, the intention of doing so is to ensure that teachers can go home promptly to spend time with their families and loved ones. And most centres which impose fines do offer a grace period or issue verbal warnings to parents who are late for the first or second time.
Most childcare centres already have extended operating hours of 7am to 7pm on weekdays, and until 2pm on Saturdays, to cater to the majority of parents.
As a pre-school educator in an early childhood organisation in Singapore, I would like to say that it is important to choose a childcare centre that best suits the needs of both parents and children.
Unforeseen circumstances notwithstanding, the most important thing is to allow children to be back home as soon as possible.
To that end, parents should consider alternatives such as selecting a centre that is close to their workplace for easy drop-off and pick-up, or to allow guardians or grandparents to assist them in picking up the children. At the end of the day, no child - or teacher - would like to be stuck in school.
Joshua Loh Zhun Yin