Singaporean dads - this is your year to shine!

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Plenty of positive changes are in store for Singaporean mums and (especially) dads, with the Government's push to help parents this year and beyond. Find out what they are in this article...

The role of a father in a child's life is undoubtedly important, with studies showing that positive paternal influence results in more emotionally secure and socially confident children.

So it comes as good news that the Singapore Government is looking to help fathers play a more active role in raising children as part of recently announced Marriage and Parenthood Package enhancements.

Senior Minister of State (Prime Minister’s Office) Josephine Teo, made the announcement on 4 January through a Facebook post, where she also elaborated on two other important areas where the Government wants to help new parents.

Here's what Singaporean parents can expect in the new year and beyond:

1. More support for dads

Among the improvements introduced, fathers will get a second week of paternity leave on a voluntary basis.

Ms Teo noted that with eight in 10 Singaporean women aged 25 to 54 active in the workforce, "the mummies among them will certainly need a helping hand from the daddies!".

She also said that when it comes to rearing children, teamwork is crucial, adding that "several studies show that children with more involved fathers have better developmental outcomes."

She hopes that "more employers can come on board as the Civil Service has."

2. More affordable quality childcare

Recognising the fact that more mums and grandparents are staying in work, Ms Teo explains that "under Early Childhood Development’s (ECDA) Masterplan, we are on track to provide sufficient child care places for 1 in 2 children by 2017."

In keeping with these goals, in the last year alone "child care capacity has increased by about 13,000 places or 110 additional centres", with Minister Tan Chuan-Jin sharing that "childcare services have also become more affordable with higher subsidies."

Want malls and eateries to be more family-friendly? It's on the list! Keep reading on the next page. 

3. More workplace and community support for young parents

Noting that many parents have told her that they feel encouraged to have more kids due to supportive elders or employers, Ms Teo said, “a strong culture of support is crucial in helping them pursue both their career and parenthood aspirations.”

“They hope there will be more good jobs with flexi-time or part-time options, and that employers will be understanding when they need time off to care for their child," she also stated.

Malls, eateries and places of interests can also be more family-friendly, Ms Teo added, also noting that "these are the areas which we will pursue together with colleagues in partner agencies."

Meanwhile, sociologists interviewed by TODAY, said the Government could further enhance the Marriage and Parenthood Package by "offering employers more incentives to adopt flexible work arrangements or increase the quota for childcare leave or maternity leave."

From 2000 to 2014, Singapore’s total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman by the end of her childbearing years) fell from 1.6 to 1.25, according to TODAY.

However, in 2014, about 33,000 babies were born -- the highest in a decade. While the figures for 2015 have not been released yet, they are expected to be similar to those of 2014.

What other enhancements would you like to see made to the Marriage and Parenthood Package? Let us know in a comment below.