I AM working full-time and my husband is currently on a long-term overseas working stint. My official working hours end at 6.30pm and I usually take about an hour via public transport to get from Raffles Place to Sengkang to pick my son up from his childcare centre every day, while my mother helps to take care of my 17-month-old daughter at home.
At first, this arrangement suited me as the childcare centre closed at 9pm. Two years ago, they changed this to 8pm, and then they adjusted it again last year to 7.30pm.
I was alarmed by the new timing as this meant I could not afford any unexpected delays or mishaps. I had to brave the crazy rush-hour traffic with my heart in my mouth, praying I would not be late to pick up my son or else I would be fined.
The final bombshell came last month, when the centre issued a notice to say they would adjust the closing time to 7pm with effect from June 1 this year in accordance with stipulations by the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports. I was shocked - no way am I going to be able to make the trip in half an hour.
I do not have anyone else to rely on to pick up my son, and I have already tried calling other childcare centres to seek a place for him, to no avail.
As most of the centres were full as of March, I can only be on the waiting list. I am near to desperation for an alternative. Where can I seek help?
The MCYS recognises the demands working parents face and their need for accessible childcare arrangements. We work with relevant agencies to provide suitable premises for the setting up of child care centres at different locations around Singapore. We also provide funding so as to lower the cost of child care to parents.
Childcare centres in Singapore are required to commence daily operations by 7am and close not earlier than 7pm. Today, some 115 centres offer extended operating hours beyond the minimum requirement, including 24 centres that operate up to 8pm and eight centres that operate up to 9pm.
Parents can search for child care centres most suited to their needs from our Child Care Link website, www.childcarelink.gov.sg.
In assessing whether to extend the operating hours, individual child care centres take into account factors such as the demand for such services. Making it mandatory for all child care centres to extend operating hours beyond 7pm will make it difficult for some child care centres to be viable.
This may in turn reduce the supply of child care centres. It could also raise cost, and make childcare less affordable for parents.
We thank Ms Tan and Ms Sim for their feedback. The MCYS will continue to work towards making child care more accessible for working parents.
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