Pre-school subsidies to be reviewed: Desmond Lee

Pre-school pupils at Ang Mo Kio Ave 1’s PCF Education Centre. Funded by Temasek Foundation Cares, The Neighbourhood Health Service Kids’ screening identifies children's medical and developmental needs early.
Pre-school pupils at Ang Mo Kio Ave 1’s PCF Education Centre. Funded by Temasek Foundation Cares, The Neighbourhood Health Service Kids’ screening identifies children's medical and developmental needs early. ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

The Early Childhood Development Agency will review the framework for pre-school subsidies, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.

Currently, eligible families can receive up to $740 in monthly subsidies, depending on their income.

Such reviews are done from time to time to ensure that childcare remains accessible, affordable and of good quality, Mr Lee said. The last review in 2013 saw an increase in subsidies of at least $100.

He said it was still too early to determine the new quantum, but an announcement would be made "sometime next year".

Mr Lee was speaking on the sidelines of an inaugural two-day event offering free health screening to about 300 children aged up to six residing in rental flats in the Boon Lay area.

Part of a two-year community screening and intervention programme by the Neighbourhood Health Service Kids and funded by Temasek Foundation Cares, the screening aims to identify children's medical and developmental needs early and connect them with the relevant healthcare and social agencies. About 400 medical, nursing and social work students from local tertiary institutions have volunteered their services.

At the event, Mr Lee also addressed the recent debate on inequality in the country and how best to help those who need assistance the most.

He said he was encouraged to see many different people stepping forward with ideas on how to offer a better safety net for Singaporean families.

"We will be open to views, but we need to have an understanding of... how our policies on education, housing, healthcare and early childcare have uplifted many families across many generations, and how we can better tackle those who remain beset with difficulties.

"We need to find a more integrated approach to help these families... The ongoing discussion done in good faith will better help us in assessing how to do better."

Among the families who took advantage of yesterday's screening was security supervisor Subramaniam Kuppusamy, 35, and his two children, aged two and six months.

Both children received a clean bill of health, which "made my wife and I feel better", he said.

Rachel Au-Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2018, with the headline 'Pre-school subsidies to be reviewed: Desmond Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe