More mega childcare facilities for new towns

Teachers and children during a sing-along session at the Atelier Loft of the Skool4Kidz's campus yesterday. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee was there to officiate the opening of Skool4Kidz's large childcare centre at Sengkang R
Teachers and children during a sing-along session at the Atelier Loft of the Skool4Kidz's campus yesterday. Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee was there to officiate the opening of Skool4Kidz's large childcare centre at Sengkang Riverside Park.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI.
Above: Alyssa Ng Si Qi (front, left) and Li Run Tong, both six, at the KidzPatch garden adjacent to the Skool4Kidz campus. Top: Overview of the Skool4Kidz campus beside the Sengkang River. It is one of the nine large childcare centres already operati
Above: Overview of the Skool4Kidz campus beside the Sengkang River. It is one of the nine large childcare centres already operational in Singapore.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Above: Alyssa Ng Si Qi (front, left) and Li Run Tong, both six, at the KidzPatch garden adjacent to the Skool4Kidz campus. Top: Overview of the Skool4Kidz campus beside the Sengkang River. It is one of the nine large childcare centres already operati
Above: Alyssa Ng Si Qi (front, left) and Li Run Tong, both six, at the KidzPatch garden adjacent to the Skool4Kidz campus. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Sengkang and Punggol to have 2,600 more pre-school places by 2020, with 5 new centres

Parents of young children living in Sengkang and Punggol can look forward to 2,600 more pre-school places by 2020, with five new large childcare centres being planned in the two estates.

Four of the five centres, with about 300 to 550 places each, will be located in Sengkang, and another centre with 650 places will be developed in Punggol.

These centres will be run by anchor operators appointed by the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

The news was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee at the official opening of Skool4Kidz's large childcare centre at Sengkang Riverside Park yesterday.

The childcare centre, which can take in about 460 pupils, is one of nine large childcare centres already operational in Singapore.

These centres have intakes three to five times larger than centres at HDB void decks. They are set up in areas of high localised pre-school demand, such as estates with many young families, according to ECDA.

Checks by The Straits Times found that Sengkang and Punggol estates have the highest number of young residents aged four and below in Singapore.

  • Drawn to play facilities, greenery

  • The play facilities and lush greenery were the factors that drew parent Janice Tan to Skool4Kidz's large childcare centre at Sengkang Riverside Park.

    Even though her daughter was already enrolled in a pre-school, Ms Tan, 33, still rushed to "camp" on the website when registration opened for the new Sengkang childcare centre.

    She got a spot, and her four-year-old daughter is among the first few batches of pupils at the large childcare centre, which officially opened yesterday.

    As the two-storey centre has plenty of play facilities such as sandpits and bicycles and is situated in a park, her daughter has ample space to explore and have fun with nature, said Ms Tan.

    The part-time administrative worker noted that it was a stark difference from her daughter's previous pre-school at a Housing Board void deck.

    "Because it's very small and very confined... there's really not enough space for them to play," said Ms Tan.

    "All I want for them, as pre-schoolers, is to play and be in touch with nature,"she said.

    Cara Wong

 
 

According to Department of Statistics records, Sengkang had the most young children, with 17,660 of its residents aged four and below as at June last year.

In second place is Punggol with 15,970 young residents, followed by Jurong West with 12,260.

Mr Lee said the large childcare centres are part of the Government's commitment to ensure that all parents who need pre-school places for their children will be able to get one.

"We do so in a way that is responsive to demand from parents, while at the same time ensuring that pre-schools remain affordable and are of good quality," he added.

Parents can expect 40,000 more pre-school places over the next five years, especially in new Build-To-Order estates with more young families, he said.

Other large childcare centres are located in Yishun, Woodlands, Jurong West and Bukit Panjang.

As with other types of childcare centres run by anchor operators, the monthly fees of the one at Sengkang Riverside Park are capped at $720 for full-day childcare and $1,275 for full-day infant care.

Operators, which receive funding from ECDA under the Anchor Operator scheme that started in 2009 and was enhanced in 2014, also have to ensure any fee increases are kept affordable for parents.

The new childcare centre at Sengkang Riverside Park has been welcomed by parents such as Mr Adrian Lim, 39, a financial planner, whose five-year-old daughter attends pre-school there.

"The whole of Sengkang is a bit crowded, and a lot of childcare centres were already filled," said Mr Lim, who had previously tried to enrol his daughter into at least four other childcare centres in the area. None of the centres got back to him with an offer.

It was by a "stroke of luck" that he managed to enrol his daughter into the large childcare centre.

"It doesn't matter if it's a mega school or not, as long as the teachers are committed to my child and can pay enough attention to her," said Mr Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2018, with the headline 'More mega childcare facilities for new towns'. Print Edition | Subscribe