SINGAPORE - Parents of Singaporean children born before Oct 1 but whose certified estimated delivery date was on or after Oct 1 can make an appeal for the $3,000 Baby Support Grant, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah.
Parents who wish to submit their appeals can find out more information here.
Last Friday (Oct 10), the Government said only babies born between Oct 1 and Sept 30, 2022, qualify for the one-off $3,000 grant, which is meant to help defray the cost of having a child amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to questions from Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), Ms He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) and others, Ms Indranee on Thursday (Oct 15) in Parliament said she "fully (understands) that parents who were not eligible to receive the Baby Support Grant are disappointed".
She said: "They experienced inconveniences and challenges in caring for newborns this year, especially during the circuit breaker."
This included having to cope with new visitation guidelines and restrictions at healthcare facilities, and having to adapt quickly when it became difficult to get help to care for newborns, she added.
Ms Indranee said the Government has received feedback, appeals and petitions to change the start date to an earlier one. "However, we would like to seek the public's understanding that specific start dates are required for any new measure or enhancement. Regardless of the effective start date, there will always be some babies who are born before it."
Ms Indranee said the authorities have received a wide range of suggestions on preferred start dates. Some peopled wanted it set a few months ago, and others even suggested going back to 2019, before there was any pandemic in sight. One person even asked for the grant to be given to all children under the age of seven, she added.
"Each group has reasons for the dates proposed, and looking at it from their perspective they are all valid. But we can only choose one date, and whichever date we choose, there will be groups who are not covered."
Ms Indranee said the Government explored several options for the start date when it was designing the scheme, which is meant to support the existing Baby Bonus Cash Gift.
The aim is to provide more support for those planning to have children but who may feel they need to postpone their plans in today's economic climate.
There were plans initially to provide a one-off grant next year from Jan 1, as part of next year's Budget, she said. "However, we felt it was important to get the support out as quickly as we can to help more Singaporeans with their parenthood aspirations.
"Announcing the plans next year could mean that parents may delay attempts to have a child in the meantime. So, we tried hard to see how we could do this earlier."
Despite the Government's tight fiscal situation, it was able to set aside some budget this year to provide more support for Singaporean parents as soon it could, she said. That, she added, explains the start date of Oct 1.
She added that there is already substantial government support for parents, including cash support of $8,000 to $10,000 offered by the Baby Bonus Cash Gift and between $3,000 and $15,000 in government co-savings for the Child Development Account.
The gross monthly household income ceiling for the Additional Subsidy for childcare fees has also been raised from $7,500 to $12,000 per month since Jan 1, among other things. Additional assistance was given to Singaporeans to help them with household expenses, while the Government is also working towards policies that make Singapore a more supportive environment for families. This includes enhancing flexible work arrangements.
In response to a question from Ms He, Ms Indranee said the Baby Support Grant is not applicable for single parents. The grant is an add-on to the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, which was designed to encourage marriage and parenthood, she added.
However, government benefits that support the growth and development of children are given to all Singaporean children, regardless of the parents' marital status, she said, including childcare and infant care subsidies.
She said: "As society continues to evolve, our policies will be updated to keep pace with societal realities... We do understand the difficulties that families, especially those with babies and young children, face during this period, and have implemented measures like those I had described earlier this year. We will continue to support families during these extraordinary times."