Steps taken to ensure quality, affordable, student care

File photo showing students during a science lesson at a primary school in Singapore, on Oct 26, 2018.
File photo showing students during a science lesson at a primary school in Singapore, on Oct 26, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Madam Joyce Anne Chia for her feedback (Improve after-school care centres; Jan 3).

We agree that student care centres (SCCs) are an important care option for working parents who need after-school care support for their school-going children.

There are more than 400 SCCs in schools and the community that are registered with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) to administer student care fee subsidies.

Where there is demand for school-based student care services, schools work closely with the service providers to expand their capacity.

Over 90 per cent of primary schools have an on-site SCC. The rest will establish one by the start of next year.

To ensure that student care is affordable for lower-income families, MSF provides monthly subsidies for student care fees and a one-off grant to offset enrolment costs.

With the assistance, eligible students could pay as low as $5 per month.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) also ensures that school-based SCCs remain affordable, and provides financial assistance to lower-income Singapore citizen students in our schools.

MSF requires all registered SCCs to meet our standards in areas of supervision, physical environment, operating hours, safety, health and hygiene, and provide a structured daily programme.

Regular checks are made to ensure this.

Many SCCs offer a variety of programmes, including activities for enrichment and character development.

To strengthen staff capabilities, MSF, the Education Ministry and Workforce Singapore have rolled out a Workforce Skills Qualifications-certified Student Care Course for SCC staff, which ensures that SCC staff are trained in areas such as child behaviour, child safety and health, and programme planning.

Our schools also provide regular feedback to their SCC service providers to ensure programmes are designed and well run, and staff are sufficiently skilled.

MSF and MOE will continue to review the quality, accessibility and affordability of student care.

Kong Kum Peck (Ms)

Director

ComCare and Social Support Division

Ministry of Social and Family Development

Liew Wei Li (Ms)

Director of Schools

Ministry of Education

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Steps taken to ensure quality, affordable, student care'. Print Edition | Subscribe