Coronavirus: Student care centres, pre-schools to halt general services

Parents with children in student care can approach their primary schools if they need help. Pre-schools will stay open for children of parents who cannot work from home as they are employed in essential services.
Parents with children in student care can approach their primary schools if they need help. Pre-schools will stay open for children of parents who cannot work from home as they are employed in essential services.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

General services at all pre-schools and student care centres will be suspended from next Wednesday to May 4.

But pre-schools will stay open for children of parents who cannot work from home because they are employed in essential services or who are unable to find alternative caregiving arrangements, Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday.

Priority will be given to children of healthcare workers and low-wage or daily-rated workers, as well as those from vulnerable families with no support, he added.

Parents should approach their child's pre-school for further help, he said at a media conference held by the multi-ministry task force dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Lee also said that those with children in student care can approach the children's primary schools.

The Early Childhood Development Agency will waive the minimum attendance requirement for pre-school subsidies this month, while the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will do the same for Student Care Fee Assistance subsidies.

This will allow parents to continue to receive fee subsidies, even though their children will not be attending pre-school or student care for a month.

The minister also said that while the MSF will suspend or reduce non-essential services from next Tuesday to May 4, social service offices will remain open so that the needy will continue to get social and financial aid with appropriate safe distancing measures in place.

The sources of such aid include the Temporary Relief Fund and the Covid-19 Support Grant, as well as ComCare assistance schemes.

 
 
 

Applications to get a one-time cash grant of $500 from the relief fund will remain open till end-April and there is no need to rush, Mr Lee said. The cash is for those who have lost their jobs or income because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Covid-19 Support Grant, which will open for application next month, will provide longer-term financial aid and job support.

An online application system for the Temporary Relief Fund will be launched next week to reduce the need to travel to community centres and social service offices to apply for the money, Mr Lee added.

Residential homes, like shelters for the homeless, will continue to serve vulnerable groups.

 
 
 

Similarly, services by MSF and MSF-funded social service agencies involved in crisis intervention for serious, high-risk and urgent cases, like domestic violence, will still be available.

The National Council of Social Service will work with social service agencies and charities to ensure the continuity of services such as food support for vulnerable residents.

Singapore citizens and permanent residents can call the ComCare hotline on 1800-222-0000 if they need help.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2020, with the headline 'Student care centres, pre-schools to halt general services'. Subscribe