Children of low-income families attending NTUC pre-schools to receive $400

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (second from left) with NTUC First Campus chief executive Chan Su Yee and beneficiary Mustakem Muhamed Rais, his wife and daughter.
NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng (second from left) with NTUC First Campus chief executive Chan Su Yee and beneficiary Mustakem Muhamed Rais, his wife and daughter.PHOTO: NTUC FIRST CAMPUS

SINGAPORE - Children of low-income families attending NTUC pre-schools will receive a one-time $400 top-up to their Child Development Account (CDA) from May this year.

In addition, one member of each of these 4,000 families will receive a sponsored NTUC membership, said NTUC First Campus (NFC) in a statement on Tuesday (Feb 9).

NFC, which operates My First Skool and Little Skool-House, said the initiatives are part of its efforts to give low-income families and their children additional support and a good start to the Chinese New Year.

In order to qualify, families must have a monthly household income of $4,500 or less, or monthly per capita income of $1,125 or less.

Their child or children must also have been enrolled in NFC's pre-schools by Jan 31 this year, and for at least three months, to be eligible for the payout.

Children receiving the $400 payouts will have the sum matched dollar-for-dollar by the Government, if the family meets the criteria under the Baby Bonus Scheme.

NFC said the sum will help defray various child-raising expenses like pre-school fees, healthcare, dental and optical needs as well as early intervention programmes at Baby Bonus-approved institutions.

It also hopes the payout will encourage low-income families to open CDAs for their children, if they have not done so.

Children born from March 24, 2016, automatically receive up to $3,000 in their accounts under the CDA First Step Grant.

As for the sponsored NTUC membership, NFC said that the families will enjoy financial and employability benefits offered by NTUC.

These include digital vouchers from assistance programmes under the NTUC-U Care Fund or subsidised skills upgrading courses through the Union Training Assistance Programme.

For eligible families who already have NTUC memberships - which cost $117 per annum - NFC said it will support them by paying the fees for one member per family.

Families will enjoy the fully sponsored memberships until their child or youngest child leaves NFC's pre-school network.

NFC said that the support for the two programmes totals $2 million and will be funded by its Bright Horizons Fund, which it set up in 2008 to help children from low-income families receive quality pre-school education.

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said: "Our NTUC Family always stands together with Singaporeans, especially in times of need.

"As part of NTUC's 2021 members outreach, we want more Singaporean families to reap the benefits of the NTUC membership during these tough times."

NFC chairman Ng Chee Yuen added: "At NTUC First Campus, we are committed to partnering families to enable every child to have an equal footing and a good start in life."

One beneficiary, Madam Zhu Su Qing, whose six-year-old daughter Cai Wen Xin attends My First Skool in Boon Lay, said the one-time top-up will help to alleviate her family's concerns over child-raising expenses.

The 36-year-old part-time hawker added that she hopes to use some of the money to purchase vitamins to meet her children's nutritional needs.

Another beneficiary, 48-year-old Mustakem Muhamed Rais, said that his family is financially stretched as up to 80 per cent of its monthly household income of about $2,500 is spent on raising five children.

"I'm very happy about this $400 CDA top-up because we can use it to pay for my daughter's pre-school fees," said the private-hire car driver, whose six-month-old daughter goes to My First Skool.

He added that the NTUC membership also helps to cut grocery costs for his family as they can offset some expenses using membership points when shopping at Fairprice.

NFC said more details on these initiatives will be shared with beneficiaries.