SINGAPORE — Sengkang and Punggol will have 1,000 new childcare places by the middle of next year, as construction of two of the five mega childcare centres the Government is building starts this month.
The remaining three mega childcare centres, each of which has a capacity of 300, will open in Jurong West, Woodlands and Yishun by the end of next year. This will benefit executive condo residents from the Signature At Yishun EC and The Brownstone EC.
Plans for the mega childcare centres were announced earlier this year, as part of the Government’s aim to add 2,400 new childcare places on top of the 20,000 spots it had pledged to provide between 2013 and 2017.
Each of the two upcoming facilities will be able to take in up to 500 children, with NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool in charge of the Sengkang centre and E-Bridge Pre-School running the one in Punggol, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said today (Aug 11).
The Sengkang centre will also be the first to have an Early Intervention Programme for Infants & Children (EIPIC) centre — catering to children with special needs — co-located on its grounds. The latter, which has 300 places, will be run by the Asian Women’s Welfare Association (AWWA).
The Sengkang centre will have outdoor features such as climbing mounds, butterfly gardens, a mini amphitheatre and water-play area. Fees will be about S$714 a month, excluding Goods and Services Tax and before subsidies — similar to the fees at other My First Skool centres.
Elaborating on the Sengkang centre’s curriculum and design, My First Skool’s deputy general manager Thian Ai Ling said there will be spaces designed to facilitate learning in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. For instance, solar panels will be installed on the roofs for children to learn about energy conservation, she added.
“The big advantage of a centre of this size … is we’re able to create very innovative and interesting learning spaces, which we would not have been able to do in a much smaller childcare centre that’s typically in a void deck location,” added NTUC First Campus chief executive officer Chan Tee Seng.
Dr Lam Pin Min, who is Member of Parliament for Sengkang West, said at the groundbreaking ceremony for the centre in his ward today that the additional places would ease the long waiting list at some of the existing centres in the town, which has a young demographic profile.
A Sengkang West resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Xiao Chen, 33, said she has not been able to return to work because she could not find a place in childcare centres for her two-year-old daughter, despite going to Ang Mo Kio and Hougang towns.
Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who also attended today’s ceremony, said the new centre would go beyond meeting the needs of young parents in non-mature estates.
Referring to the co-location of the mainstream and EIPIC childcare centres, Mr Tan told reporters: “(It) is an important development because it allows the students to interact … I think it’s a good opportunity to infuse values at a very early stage and also … allows parents to begin to understand children with different needs — what are their challenges, what are the different things we can do to help them and build a more inclusive society.”
AWWA chief executive officer Tim Oei added that moving towards an integrated model will not only offer convenience to families with children with special needs but allows siblings to be close to one another even if they are attending class in the two different centres.
Registration for the Sengkang centre will start in January.