Childcare and infantcare can be pricey in Singapore, but there are various subsidies in place to keep the costs affordable. Check out our guide for the various options.

If your maternity leave is coming to an end, it’s time to think about infantcare and childcare arrangements for your bub. Whilst childcare can be costly, the government has put in place numerous subsidies to support parents. You may also want to consider other options like hiring a domestic helper, or procuring the services of a baby sitter.

Here’s what you should know about the subsidies and grants available. 

Who is eligible for subsidies? 

All parents with children who are Singapore Citizens are entitled to a basic subsidy for childcare. Children also need to be enrolled in an ECDA-licensed childcare centre.

Basic Subsidies for childcare and infantcare

Basic subsidy rates are based on your employment status and the type of childcare programme your child is enrolled in. 

The basic subsidy is capped at $600 for infantcare and $300 for childcare for working mothers, and up to $150 for non-working mothers (for a full-day programme). 

Additional Subsidies for childcare and infantcare

There are also additional subsidies available for lower-income families, on a means-tested basis. This enables lower-income parents to afford preschool fees. 

You are eligible if your family’s household income (before CPF deduction and including bonuses, commissions, overtime pay and allowances) is $12,000 or less. Large families (5 or more family members living in the same household, with at least 3 dependants who are not earning an income) with a per capita income of $3,000 or less are also eligible. In both cases, a working applicant must apply for the subsidy. 

A working applicant refers to a mother or single father who works at least 56 hours per month. This includes full/part-time and freelance work arrangements. 

The additional subsidy is capped at $710 for infantcare and $467 for childcare. 

To find out how much subsidy you might be eligible for, check out the calculator here

Special approval for higher subsidy support

Higher subsidy support is available for certain applicants as well, such as those who are not working due to the following circumstances: 

- Looking for a job

- Studying, training or on course for at least 56 hours a month

- Pregnancy

- Medically unfit for work due to hospitalisation, long-term illness and/or permanent disability

- Taking care of sick or special needs family member

- Caring full-time for a younger child aged 24 months and below

- Incarcerated

Non-parent caregivers like grandparents, legal guardians and foster parents are also eligible for higher subsidy support. 

Each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with relevant supporting documents required. If granted, assistance will be for a limited period of time, depending on the circumstances. 

Childcare financial assistance and start-up grant

Low-income families with difficult family circumstances, and difficulty paying childcare fees even after receiving basic and additional subsidies, can apply for financial assistance. 

They can also apply for the one-time start-up grant, to pay for initial costs of enrolling their child into an infant or childcare centre.

To apply, the child must be a Singapore Citizen and enrolled in an affordable infant or childcare centre. Both parents must be working (each working at least 56 hours per month) or have valid reasons if unable to work. 

Applications must also be supported by relevant documents. Families can speak to their childcare operator for more information, or apply at the centre. 

Baby Bonus Scheme

The Baby Bonus Scheme helps to lighten the financial costs of raising children. It is part of the Marriage and Parenthood Package, and was recently enhanced in February 2021 to provide couples with greater support and assurance. The scheme includes a cash gift as well as Child Development Account (CDA) benefits. 

Parents can check if their child is eligible for the Baby Bonus cash gift and/or CDA benefits by using the eligibility check tool on Baby Bonus Online.

Baby Bonus Cash Gift

In 2015, the government enhanced the Baby Bonus Cash Gift by giving parents of Singapore Citizen children a Baby Bonus Plus of $2,000 cash. This enhanced Baby Bonus Cash Gift is provided to all children, regardless of birth order.

In total, parents can expect to receive $8,000 each for their first and second child, and $10,000 each for their third and subsequent children.

Child Development Account (CDA) 

Under CDA, a special co-savings scheme for children, the government matches dollar-for dollar all savings made by parents into their child’s account, up to a specified cap depending on your child’s birth order.

CDA benefits also include the CDA First Step Grant, which will automatically be credited after opening a CDA account. Babies born from 24 March 2016 receive up to $3,000 as part of the CDA First Step grant

Savings in the CDA may be used to pay for educational and healthcare expenses of your children at the following Baby Bonus Approved Institutions (AIs):

- Childcare centres

- Kindergartens

- Special education schools

- Providers of early intervention programmes

- Providers of assistive technology devices

- Hospitals and clinics

- Pharmacies

- Optical shops

Childcare and baby sitter costs in Singapore

Of course, it also helps to know how much you can expect to pay for infantcare and childcare. Childcare centres are not your only option too − many parents may opt for getting a domestic helper, family member or baby sitter to assist with caregiving. 

Childcare costs in Singapore will vary, and are dependent on which childcare centre you choose or who you engage to care for your child. Here’s what you can expect to pay:

How to apply for infantcare and childcare subsidies

If you decide to go with a childcare centre, you’ll need to complete the Subsidy Application Form (i.e. Form 1) with the relevant supporting documents and submit it to ECDA through your child’s centre.

You will receive a SMS and email acknowledgement when ECDA receives the application, and be notified of the outcome via SMS and email.

Main photo: iStock

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