1,000 additional infant-care places

Around 1,000 additional infant-care places will be made available by 2020 to meet growing demand.

There are around 7,000 places now, although only about 4,000, or 8 per cent, of all infants are enrolled in centre-based care.

The increase is part of government efforts to improve the accessibility of pre-school education.

Generally, childcare centres cater to children aged 18 months to six years old, while infant care is for those below 18 months old.

The number of childcare places has been expanded by over 40 per cent to about 140,000 over the past five years. "Now, there are enough places for more than half of all children between 18 months and six years of age," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

 

The Ministry of Social and Family Development will provide more details later.

National University of Singapore economics lecturer Kelvin Seah said couples may be discouraged from having as many children as they want or delay childbearing plans due to a lack of suitable, high-quality, infant-care provision.

"By making infant care more accessible, more women will now be able to enter the labour force without worrying that the needs of their children might be compromised," he added.

IT manager Danny Tan, who is expecting to welcome a first child in July, is considering infant care as an option. "It gives us more choices when my wife eventually returns to work," he said. "I am glad there is more support given to young families like ours."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline '1,000 additional infant-care places'. Print Edition | Subscribe