Saturday 14 January 2012

More workplace childcare centres in pipeline?

By Qiuyi Tan, Channel NewsAsia, 13 Jan 2012

Parents can look forward to more child care options beyond residential areas as the government wants to provide more options for working parents by encouraging more child care centres in the workplace.

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) is developing an information kit about the benefits and financial grants such as an one-off capital grant of over S$50,000 available to employers and building owners who want to set up a workplace childcare centre.

There are currently 35 such centres in Singapore, all of which have benefitted from the government grant that started in 2000.

Minister of State for MCYS Halimah Yacob announced the initiative during a visit to a childcare centre at the Changi Business Park on Friday morning.

Madam Halimah said: "For companies that set up workplace childcare centres, this is a very effective strategy to attract and retain talent, to allow employees to bond with their children, and therefore create satisfaction among the employees.

"And this workplace doesn't necessarily mean one employer and one childcare. It could be one workplace childcare shared by many employers, so long as they are sited within a building where there are employers needing this facility."

Angeline Teo, who is a working mother, goes to work every day with her two children.

Their child care centre is located in the same building as her office at Changi Business Park and this was a key factor in the project manager's choice of employer when her family re-located back to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2010.

"I don't have to take a half-day off. I can just schedule my work to have a half an hour or 45-minute break and I come down and watch my kids perform or do their activity, and go back to work right after," said Madam Teo.

Learning Vision ChildCare's CEO Sally May Tan believes workplace childcare centres can help to reduce staff turnover and absenteeism.

"These are things a company can measure, but on the softer side of benefits, imagine, what that does for morale and camaraderie if a company has got its employees' children together in a workplace centre," she said.

Learning Vision says there is a growing demand for child care in the workplace, judging from the long waiting-lists at their centres.

Any employer or building owner intending to set up a workplace child care centre for the first time is eligible for government funding. Full information can be found in the MCYS information kit when it is ready in May.

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