Govt boosts subsidies for child and infant care

In another move to get Singaporeans to have more babies, the government said it is raising child and infant care subsidies for lower and middle income families.

In a press statement on Wednesday, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing announced the details of the subsidy changes, which follow the unveiling Monday of a Marriage and Parenthood package that includes increased cash gifts to citizens having kids.

Under the new subsidy framework to take effect from the start of April this year, on top of the basic subsidy, families with a gross monthly income of $7,500 and below will get additional subsidies.

Those using full-day programmes will see child and infant care subsidies rise at least $100 and $200, respectively. Lower-income families will receive more.

The additional subsidy replaces the previous scheme that provided child care related financial assistance for families earning $3,500 and below.

Other forms of assistance will continue, including the one-time start-up grant of up to $1,000 per child to help cover the cost of deposit, uniforms and registration fees.

Up to two-thirds of households in Singapore can benefit from the higher subsidies, the government said.

The additional spending will bring up the government's total budget in child and infant care by $105 million to $360 million for the next fiscal year.

Aside from the increase in the subsidies, the number of child care and infant care places for lower and middle income families will be expanded, government added, saying that more details would be released next quarter.

The slew of family-friendly measures comes as Singapore grapples with an ageing population, one of the lowest total fertility rates in the world at 1.2 in 2011 and a reliance on a large pool of foreign workers that has resulted in much grumbling from its home-grown citizen population.

These announcements come less than a week before the country's largest single-member constituency, Punggol East, goes to the polls in a closely-watched by-election that is said to be a test for the ruling People's Action Party.

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Paternity leave the right step: PAP's Koh

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