More signing up for night-time childcare services
MSF looking at piloting service at a Community Link site to better assess demand and sustainability
Two of her three sons - one aged eight and the other, nine - are in night-time childcare, and Ms Ivy Koh plans to sign up her five-year-old next year so she can get a second job to supplement the family income.
Ms Koh, 39, is a merchandiser and her husband is a hawker. She is grateful that Morning Star Community Services offers an evening support programme for children, aptly named CareNights.
"My job requires me to work long hours and I always have to rush from place to place to pick my kids up," she told The New Paper recently.
"But now that two of my sons are with CareNights, I feel more at peace, especially when I end work late."
CareNights at Morning Star is for children aged six to 14 years. It runs every weeknight between 6pm and 10pm, and is free for households whose gross combined income is below $4,500.
Ms Jagdeep Kaur, head of programmes and volunteer management at Morning Star, said the number of children in the programme rose from 19 in 2016 to 180 last year.
"Through my interactions with families, what stood out was the irregularity of the working hours now compared with pre-Covid," she said.
"We have seen about 20 parents/caregivers losing their jobs, or had their income reduced, leading them to taking on two jobs or ad hoc jobs."
Morning Star has four centres providing evening care support.
In a written reply in Parliament on February 25, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli said more than 40 childcare centres here are currently operating beyond 7pm on weekdays - about 3 per cent of the total number of centres.
Responding to Mr Louis Ng's (Nee Soon GRC) queries on the ministry's findings of its study on the demand for night-time childcare services, Mr Masagos said the MSF is looking at the possibility of piloting night-time childcare at a Community Link (ComLink) site to better assess demand for and sustainability of such services.
ComLink sites are social service hubs set up to help families living in rental flats.
When asked if there were plans to start more night-time caregiving services at childcare centres, an MSF spokesman said such a move could add to staffing demands and result in higher fees for parents.
"Other considerations include finding the right balance between meeting the needs of working parents and the family needs of centre staff.
"Centre staff will also require adequate rest to provide consistent, quality care to young children at the centre," added the spokesman.
Mr Ng stressed that night-care services must be targeted at lower income families.
He added: "As a parent, I can't imagine how worried I'll be if I have to leave my children alone at home. So I am very happy that MSF is looking at piloting night-time childcare at a ComLink site."