The guide to best childcare options in Singapore
By Marisse Gabrielle Reyes, 09 October 2017 13595
Any working parent knows the struggle that comes with finding a childcare option that works for your family. From enrolling your child in a childcare centre, hiring a babysitter or domestic helper, engaging a trusted family member or finding a way to work with more flexibility - we outline the pros and cons to help you make the most informed decision.
1. Enrolling your child in a childcare centre
There’s a spectrum of childcare centres that cater to a variety of needs. Most offer full day and half day rates as well as structured programs for kids under the age of seven that aim to enhance your child’s development.
Pros: Your child can benefit from invaluable socialization at childcare centres. They are licensed, regulated and run by staff that are trained and accredited. Most are open from Monday-Saturday but many offer care for emergencies, before and after school as well as care for kids up to the age of 14.
Cons: The price of child care centres can be expensive. There are also limited hours for pick up and drop off, so parents will need to adhere to a strict schedule. Care is also limited for infants and teens and most centres won’t care for your child if they are sick.
Options: Choosing a child care centre with the right fit is important. The Early Childhood Development Agency has a comprehensive listing of child care centres in Singapore as well as a manual to help you choose the right one for you and your family.
2. Hiring a full-time or part-time babysitter
For those that are looking for more specialized care for their children, hiring a babysitter can be a good option. Babysitting agencies offer various services such as caring for the child in your home or the babysitter’s as well as overnight babysitting.
Pros: Parents and children can develop a personal relationship with their babysitter, which can lead to greater trust and reduced stress. Arrangements can be made to have the child be looked after at home and babysitting hours can be flexible.
Cons: Hiring a babysitter can be expensive and finding one that you and your family trust can be difficult. It may be complicated to do a background check on your babysitter since most work on a freelance basis. Furthermore, there might be language barriers with your babysitter.
Options: It might be good to go down the route of word-of-mouth recommendations, but you can also take to babysitting agencies such as Find a Nanny, Nanny Pro and Baby Carers.
3. Hiring a domestic helper
Domestic helpers often look after the needs of an entire household - from cooking to cleaning to child and elderly care. They are mostly live-in helpers and hail from the region’s developing countries.
Pros: Because domestic helpers are full-time employees, they can be reliable and give a lot of attention to your family. Although they should have set rest hours, their hours can be flexible.
Cons: Since domestic helpers live with you, your privacy can be reduced and there can be barriers in language or cultural differences. Because domestic helpers are technically your employees, there are several aspects that you will be obligated to look after such as their daily necessities and medical needs. However, you can reduce your financial risk as an employer by insuring your domestic helper with Income’s Domestic Helper Insurance, which provides comprehensive yet affordable protection for them.
Options: You may hire your domestic helper directly, which can save on extra fees. However, you can also reach out to reputable agencies such as those found here.
4. Grandparents or any other family member
Asking a family member to look after your child can be a safe and logical option for many working parents. However, the arrangement highly depends on your relationship to the family member.
Pros: Whether it’s a parent or aunt or uncle, your child may feel more at ease with a family member. Plus the family bonding time is invaluable and the child can be surrounded by familiar toys, activities and playmates. It’s often done at little or no cost and can be done from your relative’s home or your own.
Cons: The care depends greatly on your relative’s capabilities and schedule. For elderly parents that may not be so energetic, it may be a struggle for both the parent and the child.
Options: This arrangement can work well if you have a live-in relative, but it also places a burden on your family member. This option might be more successful for all parties when used in conjunction with a babysitter or child care centre.
5. Flexible working
Flexible working is gaining steam in many countries and has benefits both for the employee and the employer. Flexible working can mean working from home part-time or full-time or having flexible work hours.
Pros: There’s nothing better than raising your children yourself - you’ll never miss any milestone moments.
Cons: Depending on your employer, flexible working can hinder job progression, although it shouldn’t. Working from home can also be difficult for the parent as some may find it challenging to multitask.
Options: Ask your employer for flexible working options or look for an employer that already offers it.