An alleged night-time childcare centre in Singapore is operating illegally. Read all about it here, and why parents should be concerned...
An HDB flat in Toa Payoh, Singapore, is allegedly being used for running an illegal night-time childcare centre, with more than 10 children being taken care of!
According to The Straits Times, it has been reported that parents (mostly from China) leave their children at the flat every day after 6 pm. Most of the kids seem to be of primary school age, but some have been reported to be as young as 5!
A resident at the HDB block has been quoted as saying, “The children usually stay there for some hours. Some even spend the night there, and the parents pick them up the next day.”
Shin Min Daily News has quoted a male resident at the flat as saying, “I’m just helping my friends look after their kids. There are more than 10 of them. I receive some money to help out with family expenses.”
He apparently continued to deny that he was running a childcare centre, “I have a son who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder at home, so I give tuition at home, and help my friends look after their kids to pay the bills.”
It seems that this man, from China, has been otherwise unemployed for the last 6 years. He has rented the flat, but the landlord is apparently unaware of this ‘business’.
Meanwhile, an HDB spokesman has been quoted as saying, “While residents may use their flats to carry out home-based small-scale informal businesses under the Home Based Small Scale Business Scheme, childcare centres are not allowed. We are investigating the case with the relevant authorities.”
Rules for running a childcare centre
When we think of this case, more than anything else, issues of child health and safety come to mind. Inside a closed HDB flat, even if a child were to cry out for help, nobody would usually care, or suspect any foul play.
The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) lists these important rules for setting up a childcare centre in Singapore (there are lots, but we chose the most relevant ones here):
- All child care centres are to be licensed, and to comply with the standards and regulations listed in the Child Care Centres Act and Regulations booklet.
- The child care centre should always be located on the ground floor of the building, unless otherwise approved by the Director of Social Welfare. If otherwise, written approval from the ECDA has to be obtained. If the premises are rented, the landlord’s consent is recommended, and the lease should be at least for 3 years.
- The childcare centre should ensure that the safety and well being of children are not compromised and measures such as children’s evacuation are in place in the event of a fire. Children should also not have access to anything that would endanger their health and safety, like medicine, poisonous substances and dangerous objects like knives. Window grilles should be installed on all windows which are not on the ground floor.
- All trainers or supervisors should be qualified.
- The indoor space should be large enough to accommodate the children. Every child care centre should have a designated space for preparation of food, activity areas, playing, toilet and bathing facilities, washing, eating, resting, isolation of sick children, storage of food, beds, toys, and medical supplies.
- If a child care centre is not licensed or is used otherwise than in accordance with the terms and conditions of its licence, any person who operates or takes part in the management of the child care centre shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
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