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Chan Chun Sing on quality benchmarks in childcare sector
SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing has warned against a situation of price inadvertently becoming a signal for quality in childcare education and services.
"We then have a luxury good(s) problem, where more expensive programmes are perceived to be better," he said at a childcare seminar on Friday.
Mr Chan said parents should look at whether the value—add of a programme is commensurate with the price.
He said it is important for the childcare sector to have clear quality benchmarks to help parents make informed and considered choices, so that they will not end up chasing services that may be ill—suited for their children’s development.
"We will need to help parents distinguish things that are important and core for a child’s development and other things that are good to have," said Mr Chan.
Turning to the issue of affordability, Mr Chan said this can mean different things to different people.
He said the government will try to establish baseline quality benchmarks and goals but will be mindful that some parents will want to pursue higher benchmarks and other goals.
Hence, there will always be a niche demand for such services.
"We cannot prevent this, but we must satisfy ourselves that there are sufficient mass market options that can meet our desired quality benchmarks and yet remain affordable to the average family," he said.
Mr Chan urged childcare operators to continue to work for the best interests of children, parents and childcare professionals.
He said given the anxiety of parents for quality programmes and the "asymmetry of information", childcare operators have to act responsibly — like doctors, who must give sound advice and not push unnecessary products on their clients.
He highlighted three key interests — provide a wholesome and developmentally—appropriate environment for children; be dynamic and innovate to meet diverse needs; and develop long—term brand equity with parents and the community, which will matter more than short—term profits or returns.