Last week, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), the largest pre-school operator in Singapore, announced that it will raise fees across its kindergarten and child care centres from 2016. According to a report by Channel News Asia, there was a lack of clarity on the exact quantum of increase as programmes and fees vary across the different education centres.
The increase in fees was said to defray rising operational costs, as well as the investment in curriculum development and enhancing the learning environment. In November last year, the PCF embarked on a re-branding exercise which consists of a new logo, new uniform designs, as well as an effort to standardise its curriculum. In the past, centres had the autonomy to decide their own curriculum, fees and teachers.
Initial reaction to the fee hikes were mostly that of surprise, since fees at some centres were increased some time last year. While the PCF could not provide the range of fee increases, a letter to parents by one of the Preschools has been circulating online, showing that K2 fees will be S$617.90 a month for Singapore citizens. Permanent residents (PRs) will pay S$765 and foreigners pay S$926.80. For infant care, fees are raised to S$1,235.80 a month for citizens.
With such high prices, how can Singaporeans continue to provide quality pre-school education for their children?
You might want to check out the following subsidies compiled by GET.com to help you defray the higher costs of preschool education.
1. Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)
Image source: childcarelink.gov.sg
KiFAS is open for parents whose gross monthly household salary is $6,000 and below, with a Singapore Citizen child enrolled in kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery (K2, K1, N or pre-N) programme in PCF kindergartens.
Lower income families will receive a higher quantum of support of up to $170 in fee assistance per month. KiFAS application can be made through your child's PCF kindergarten.
You can request for an application form at the kindergarten, followed with parents' identity cards and pay slips, as well as the birth certificate of your child.
2. PCF Headstart Fund (HSF)
The PCF Headstart Fund is meant to help needy young preschool children, strictly for parents whose net per capita income is less than or equal to $500.
Two types of assistance are available:
1) Successful applicants will receive $50 a month up to a maximum of $600 a year, or
2) Successful applicants with special needs (eg. hearing/ visually impaired, autistic, Down Syndrome) will receive $100 a month up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. Application forms are available from any PCF centre or at the PAP MPs' office during the Meet-the-People session.
3. Child Care/ Infant Care Subsidy
All parents with Singapore Citizen children enrolled in child care centres licensed by Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) will be eligible for a basic subsidy of up to $600 for infant care and $300 for child care respectively.
Additional subsidies are also disbursed for working mother who is working 56 hours or more per month and gross family household income is $7,500 and below. The Additional Subsidy is between $100 - $440 for child care and $200 - $540 for infant care, depending on the household income level. You can refer to the additional subsidy calculator here for more details.
Other than subsidies, you can also use the money from the Child Development Account to help you pay for your children's education. Remember, the government also matches your deposits in the CDA of up to $6,000 for your first and second child and $12,000 for your third and fourth child.
Check for the list of approved institutions here.