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Child Care Subsidies in Singapore 2018 – What Do You Qualify For?

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Joanne Poh

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With the rising cost of living in Singapore, raising a child here isn’t cheap, and it’s only going to get more expensive. Fortunately, the government’s Baby Bonus and raft of childcare subsidies are there to help defray kid-related costs (though perhaps not quite enough — but that’s a story for another day).

So for those of you who are thinking of adding a new member to the family in 2018, just what subsidies do you qualify for, and what are you excluded from?

Childcare Subsidy Benefits (per child) Restrictions
Baby Bonus Cash Gift $8,000 (1st & 2nd child)

$10,000 (3rd child onwards)

None
Baby Bonus First Step Grant $3,000 credit to Child Development Account None
Dollar-for-dollar matching Child Development Account Up to $3,000 (1st & 2nd child)

Up to $9,000 (3rd & 4th child)

Up to 15,000 (5th child onwards)

None
Basic Childcare Subsidy Up to $600 (infantcare) or $300 (childcare) for working mothers

Up to $150 for non-working mothers

Child must be enrolled in ECDA-licensed centre
Additional Childcare Subsidy Up to $540 (infantcare)

Up to $440 (childcare)

Income ceiling: $7,500 per household or $1,875 per person

For mothers and single fathers who work a minimum 56 hours a month

Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS) 20% to 99% of fees (capped at $170 including GST) Income ceiling: $6,000 per household or $1,500 per person

Child must be enrolled in MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten

Start Up Grant (SUG) Up to $240 Income ceiling: $1,900 per household or $650 per person

Child must be enrolled in MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten

Edusave contribution $200 a year (primary school)

$240 a year (secondary school)

For children age 7 and up

 

Baby Bonus (from birth onwards)

In Singapore, you can get money from the government to defray the costs of raising a child just days after giving birth. The Baby Bonus comes in 3 parts: a cash gift, the First Step grant, and dollar-for-dollar matching of savings for your child.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development has a Baby Bonus portal where you can check on your child’s eligibility for various grants. To get these grants, you have to enrol in the scheme, which can be done online as early as 8 weeks before your child is born.

Baby Bonus cash gift

Regardless of the income level of the parents, every child in Singapore qualifies for a cash gift upon birth. Assuming you’ve enrolled in the Baby Bonus scheme and have registered your baby’s birth, you can expect to get the first cash gift within 10 working days.

Additional funds will come in when he/she turns 6 months old, 12 months old, 15 months old and 18 months old.

You will receive a total of $8,000 each for your first and second children, and $10,000 each for the third and subsequent children.

Income ceiling: None

Baby Bonus First Step Grant

The second component of the Baby Bonus comes in the form of a $3,000 First Step Grant, which will be deposited into your child’s Child Development Account (CDA).

Every Singaporean baby automatically gets a Child Development Account (CDA) in his/her name, a special savings account with DBS, OCBC or UOB that can be applied for online and opened within days of your child’s birth.

The money in the Child Development Account can be used to pay for your child’s childcare, kindergarten, and medical or optical expenses.

Income ceiling: None

Dollar-for-dollar matching of savings in Child Development Account (CDA)

The government will match dollar-for-dollar savings deposited into the Child Development Account. That means that when you deposit $3,000 into the Child Development Account for your first child, the government contribute you another $3,000.

The government will match up to $3,000 of savings each for your first and second children, $9,000 each for the third and fourth children and $15,000 each for the fifth and any subsequent children.

You can save in your child’s CDA until he or she is 12 years old. After that, any balance will be transferred over to your child’s bank account.

Income ceiling: None

 

Preschool, infant care & child care subsidies (up to 6 years old)

With childcare operators hiking up their prices, sending your baby or toddler to preschool is pricier than ever. Here are subsidies that can help out with the costs.

Childcare Basic Subsidy

All parents with children who are Singapore Citizens are entitled to a Basic Subsidy for childcare. The only requirement is that the child be enrolled in an ECDA-licensed childcare centre.

The amount of the Basic Subsidy will depend on the mother’s working status and the type of the programme the child is enrolled in (eg. full-day or half-day). However, the income level of the family is not taken into account.

The Basic Subsidy is up to $600 for infantcare and up to $300 for childcare if the mother is working, and up to $150 for non-working mothers.

Income ceiling: None

Additional Childcare Subsidy

If your family’s household income is $7,500 or less, or works out to $1,875 or less per person in your household, and the mother is working, you are also eligible for an Additional Childcare Subsidy.

Unfortunately, families with mothers who aren’t working at least 56 hours a month aren’t eligible for the Additional Childcare Subsidy regardless of income level.

You can receive a maximum of $540 for infantcare and $440 for childcare.

The amount you receive will depend on your income level and the type of childcare programme your kid is enrolled in.

If your household income is $2,500 and below and your child is enrolled in a full day programme, you’ll qualify for the maximum Additional Subsidy of up to $440 (in addition to a Basic Subsidy of $300).

But if your income is $7,500, you will receive an Additional Subsidy of just $100, along with your $300 Basic Subsidy.

Income ceiling: $7,500 household income or $1,875 per capita income

 

Kindergarten subsidies (from 3 to 6 years old)

If you choose to send your kid to an MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten, there are subsidies available to help make kindergarten affordable for lower income families.

Kindergarten Fee Assistance Scheme (KiFAS)

If your gross monthly household income is $6,000 and below and your child is enrolled in a kindergarten, nursery or pre-nursery programme operated by an MOE or Anchor Operator kindergarten, you’ll be eligible for the KiFAS.

The amount you’ll receive is calculated based on your household or per capita income.

Households earning $2,500 (or $625 and below per capita) and below will receive the maximum of 99% fee assistance or a maximum of $170, meaning your child gets to go to school almost for free.

On the other hand of the scale, if your household income is $5,001 to $6,000 (or your per capita income is $1,251 to $1,500), you’ll receive the minimum assistance amount of 20% of your child’s fees or a maximum of $35.

Income ceiling: $6,000 household income or $1,500 per capita income

Start Up Grant (SUG)

If you need even more financial assistance as your child starts kindergarten, you can also apply for the SUG which is for lower income families with $1,900 per household or $650 per person.

The amount you’ll receive is also calculated by income. You can get up to $240 in cash grant to pay for assorted costs like uniforms, school supplies, registration fees and insurance.

Income ceiling: $1,900 household income or $650 per capita income

 

Primary & secondary school subsidies (from 7 years old onwards)

Your child has gained control of bodily functions and is able to start school proper. At this point, he or she will also get financial support from the government in the form of Edusave.

Edusave contribution

When your child hits the age of 7, he will become eligible for Edusave contributions, whether he is enrolled in an MOE-funded school, independent school or madrasah, or even he is homeschooled or studying overseas.

Primary students currently receive $200 a year, while secondary students get $240 a year.

At times, the government will announce a one-off top-up. For instance, in 2015, all students received an extra $150. That was also an election year, but we’re sure that’s just a coincidence….

Income ceiling: None

 

Some factors that will affect how much your child gets

Some of these childcare subsidies, like the Baby Bonus and Edusave, are standard for all Singaporean children. However, there are several factors that will impact how much in grants you can get.

Household or per capita income

The preschool and kindergarten subsidies – Additional Childcare Subsidy, KiFAS and SUG – have income ceilings and the grant amount varies according to your household income.

Non-working vs working mother child care subsidy

For Basic and Additional Childcare Subsidy, working moms get more subsidies than stay-home moms. The difference is substantial – up to almost $1,000 a month. To be considered a working mom, you have to work at least 56 hours a month (14 hours a week).

And yes, the government is only looking at the mother’s employment status, not the father’s, even though it’s already 2018.

Preschool vs childcare vs kindergarten

Finally, between the ages of 2 and 6, it also matters whether you send your kid to child care, preschool or kindergarten. These words are thrown about almost interchangeably, but they’re not actually the same thing. Here’s a very brief breakdown on what each one entails:

Preschool is just an umbrella term for childcare centres and kindergartens – basically any kind of early childhood institution. In Singapore, they are regulated by the ECDA.

Childcare centres take in kids as young as 18 months old and usually offer either full-day (basically, the entire time Mom and Dad are at work) or half-day (either AM or PM) programmes. There’s a tremendous amount of variation, but most childcare centres offer a well-rounded balance of education, play time, meals and nap time. Prices also vary a lot, but as these are mostly privately operated they can get really expensive.

Kindergartens are open to kids from 3 to 6 years old. School lasts only a few hours and it is more education-focused. Many kids in Singapore go to kindergarten then spend the rest of the day at the childcare centre. Generally the prices are more controlled, but higher income families cannot enjoy kindergarten subsidies.

Kindergartens: Enrolment in kindergartens is only open for children between 3 to 6 years old.

Are there other childcare subsidies we might have missed? Let us know in the comments.

Related:

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Confinement Nanny Hires in Singapore – How Much They Cost and Where to Find Them

3 Ways Singapore Workplaces Can Support Gender Equality and Raise the Birthrate

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.