More help for low-income families at PCF Sparkletots

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo helping PCF Sparkletots K2 children Chang Ann Kiet and Rebecca Aarin, both six, in a glass art class at Goodman Arts Centre yesterday.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo helping PCF Sparkletots K2 children Chang Ann Kiet and Rebecca Aarin, both six, in a glass art class at Goodman Arts Centre yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

JThe PAP Community Foundation (PCF) will pump in $2 million a year over the next three years into a fund that supports low-income families with Singaporean children at its Sparkletots centres.

The monthly household income ceiling to qualify for the Headstart Fund will also be raised from $2,500 to $4,500 next January, said PCF in a statement yesterday.

This increase in funding and expanded eligibility criteria will benefit about 10,000 low-income families each year.

PCF, a charitable foundation established by the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1986, has an enrolment of more than 40,000 children in about 360 pre-schools here.

Since 2004, PCF said it has disbursed $3 million in total to help 6,600 families, providing additional support to cover monthly school fees on top of government pre-school subsidies.

From next year, the fund will also cover families with younger children, from infant care to Nursery 1.

It is already available for children from Nursery 2 to Kindergarten 2.

PCF said that, with the Headstart Fund grant, parents whose children are eligible will pay about $10 or less for full-day childcare and $5 or less for half-day kindergarten programmes.

The monthly pre-school fee after government subsidies will also be reduced to about $100 or less for infant care, it said.

PCF was unable to provide a range of the fees charged at its pre-schools.

According to the Early Childhood Development Agency website, monthly fees at the PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Bishan East-Thomson Block 197 range from $160 to $320. Monthly fees at its pre-school at Bukit Batok Block 148 are from $144 to $308. Fees for children who are Singapore citizens are lower than non-citizens.

 
 

Families with children who have been diagnosed with special needs, such as hearing or visual impairment, autism and Down syndrome, will receive double the financial support under the enhanced fund.

These families currently receive $100 a month up to a maximum of $1,200 a year.

Families can apply for the fund at any PCF centre.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo yesterday said the fund was expanded following "very positive feedback" from families that it has helped.

Mrs Teo, who chairs the PCF executive committee, spoke to reporters during a PCF Sparkletots event at Goodman Arts Centre, where she joined over 60 children as they participated in enrichment programmes such as glass and clay art, and a music class.

"PCF's mission has always been to give every child a good start in life through quality and affordable pre-school education," she said.

"This enhancement of the Headstart Fund reaffirms our commitment, and is our way to ensure that all young Singaporeans can make progress together, regardless of family circumstances."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2019, with the headline 'More help for low-income families at PCF Sparkletots'. Print Edition | Subscribe