More night childcare help for needy parents who are busy at work or taking classes

Morning Star Community Services, which runs evening support programme CareNights, has about 60 children across four centres. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

JUL 8, 2023
Amelia Teng

SINGAPORE – More childcare help in the evenings is available for parents from low-income households who work odd hours, with the expansion of a programme by Daughters of Tomorrow (DOT).

Since January, the charity that works with underprivileged women has opened up its home-based childminding service from Punggol and Bedok to all of Singapore.

At least three children have benefited so far from the scsex toys for beginners Adult Sex Toys for couples custom jersey adidas ultraboost shoes nike air jordan shoes custom jerseys best nike air max shoes sex toy store Synthetic Wigs best sex toys for men best sex toys for couples cheap nba jerseys Bengals jerseys sex toys for women best nike air max shoes heme, which caters to those aged three to nine, and is targeted at parents in shift work.

Another charity, Morning Star Community Services, which runs a similar programme called CareNights, has about 60 children across four centres.

This is up from 19 when it first opened one branch in 2016.

It has also received more interest of late, with 25 applications in 2022, an increase of 50 per cent from the previous year.

Mr Lemuel Yanos, CareNight’s assistant manager, said the team is exploring the possibility of expanding the drop-in service, which caters to children aged six to 14, in the evenings on weekdays, to more areas.

Its fourth and latest centre in Toa Payoh opened in 2021, to cater to families who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and needed night time childcare, so that they could be freed up to work or study at night.

Its other centres are in Bedok and Sengkang.

The programme is offered to parents whose combined gross income is up to $4,500 per month, or a per capita income of up to $1,125.

DOT’s programme, which is in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development, has trained 21 “childminders” as at March, and is in the midst of training a new batch. The childminders are females aged 25 years old and above.

A spokesman for DOT said childcare issues were the top barrier to employment for its beneficiaries, based on an assessment done in 2020.

This is in line with the Labour Force in Singapore 2020 report, which indicated that housework and childcare were the biggest reasons working-age women were out of the workforce, while the top barriers for men were education and training.

Under the programme, the most common arrangement is for the childminders to pick up the kids from childcare centres and care for them, until their parents end work and pick them up.

The session, which could be at the childminder’s home or the parent’s home, can take place between 7pm and 12am, with no overnight stay. However, exceptions can be made for unforeseen circumstances.

The DOT spokesman said: “Parents shouldn’t have to choose between caring for their children and going to work. Furthermore, due to their irregular shift hours, such parents are often penalised for picking up their children late from childcare centres.”

Mr Khong Kiong Seng, communications and development manager at Morning Star Community Services, said the bulk of parents who send their children to CareNights – which is funded by grants and donations from foundations and corporations – are single parents, and need some respite.

Other reasons include working over time or shifts, needing help because they are taking classes or having family crises.

At the centres, children are provided dinner and have a structured programme consisting of study time, enrichment activities like storytelling and music and movement, and games. Movie nights are held on Fridays.

The children are evaluated twice a year, to assess their behaviour and character development.

Two staff members at each centre run the programme every night, along with volunteers who are trained in child management skills by the charity’s training department.

Ms Marife Orendain’s seven-year-old daughter started going to CareNights in Toa Payoh in November 2022. The 35-year-old retail assistant picks her daughter up in the evenings after her shift ends.

“This (arrangement) is better for my family so I can work properly and she gets a lot of help at the centre. I don’t have time to teach her, so it’s good that she finishes her homework there,” she said.

Ms Felicia Lim, whose nine-year-old son attends CareNights in Sengkang, said: “It’s exhausting to manage work and studies, with household chores and raising children.”

The 26-year-old single mother stopped work in the information technology sector at the end of 2022 so that she could spend more time with her son. She isstudying for a polytechnic diploma in digital communications part-time.

“With him at CareNights, I can listen to my online lectures in peace… I like their enrichment programmes and outings… they also have play time and learn life skills beyond academics,“ she said.

“He’s able to make friends there and enjoys the programme.”

She added: “My dream is to one day get a degree from one of the local universities. Without qualifications, I can’t go any higher and give my son a better life.”


This article was originally published in The Straits Times on 8 July 2023

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