Parliamentary reply by Minister Indranee Rajah on child care leave for parents of differently abled children
FOURTEENTH PARLIAMENT OF SINGAPORE
TUESDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2020
Mr Louis Ng:
To ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider providing extra childcare leave for parents of differently abled children to attend developmental assessments, medical and therapy appointments.
Ms Indranee Rajah (for the Prime Minister):
We recognise that caregiving can be challenging, especially for those who have to juggle between work and caregiving roles, some of whom may be parents of children with special needs. We have enhanced child care leave provisions progressively over the years – we increased child care leave provisions for parents with children aged below seven years old from two to six days per year, and extended two days of child care leave per year to parents with children aged seven to 12.
We have taken a practical approach to calibrating child care leave provisions. Any enhancements will need to balance the caregiving needs of parents with the manpower and operational needs of employers, to avoid inadvertently affecting parents’ employability.
Beyond legislated leave provisions, it is important for employers to provide a family-friendly work environment, to help parents manage their work and caregiving responsibilities. For example, employers could implement flexible work arrangements (FWAs), and allow parents of children with special needs to take a few hours off from work to bring their child for medical appointments or developmental assessments. The Tripartite Standards on FWAs and on Unpaid Leave for Unexpected Care Needs, introduced in 2017 and 2018 respectively, also encourage companies to provide additional support for employees’ personal or caregiving responsibilities.
The Government has steadily improved support for the child care needs of parents of children with special needs. Earlier this year, we enhanced subsidies for the Special Student Care Centre (SSCC) programme, which provides before-and-after school care service and supervision for Special Education (SPED) students. We also removed the age limit for children with special needs under the Grandparent Caregiver Relief scheme, from the Year of Assessment 2020. Working mothers who seek grandparents’ help to care for their children with special needs can now get the $3,000 tax relief, regardless of the child’s age.
Other support is available for caregivers of children with special needs. One example is the caregiver engagement and training provided by Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) centres, to equip caregivers with skills and knowledge to continue the support at home. SG Enable maintains The Enabling Guide and Carelender App to provide caregivers better access to information on resources available to support them, and provides the Caregivers Pod at the Enabling Village as a space for caregivers to find peer support, attend training sessions and organise sharing sessions among themselves.
We will continue to study how to better support working parents, including those with children with special needs.