Charity addresses the need for flexible childcare outside standard hours for lower-income families

DOT welcomes news of the arrangement as it hopes the government will expand such services nationwide and expand child care subsidies to home-based models.

This would give parents greater flexibility to choose from different types of childcare to suit the needs of their family, Ms Tay said.

“That said, it may not fully meet the demand for flexible care arrangements, especially for the lower-income women that DOT supports.”

MSF’s current pilot, which is only offered during working hours, may not adequately accommodate mothers who work irregular shifts or need childcare outside of standard opening hours, she added.

“Based on our experience, lower-income women may not have access to professional, managerial, executive and technician jobs, and are more likely to work shifts and require childcare after 7pm and on weekends.”

Some parents may prefer center-based care because of the structured environment and program, Dr. Cheung said.

She added: “It then becomes a matter of preference for individual families – some parents may prefer a home-based childminder because they know someone they trust to be trustworthy, or who lives very close to them.”

“Ultimately, good childcare, whether at home or in a center, is one where the caregiver has knowledge of the child’s development and can provide high-quality care.”

A single mother, who wanted to be known only as Ria, enlisted the services of DOT for her 17-month-old son as she struggled to secure a spot in a daycare for him. She needed someone to take care of him while she was at work during the day.

The 20-year-old student teacher was paired with a childminder for $5 an hour.

She said: “I felt relieved because it would also be a good way for my son to explore more experiences with different people, so I know he has someone he can count on besides me.”

Training and safety

Childminders under the DOT program undergo rigorous screening to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care, Ms Tay told ST.

The women, aged 25 and older, are subject to home and background checks, family assessments and interviews.

Once selected, they undergo a full day of training, focusing on areas of early childhood and care, both physical and psychological.

Once a potential match has been identified, DOT facilitates a personal meeting between the family and the childminder, with a staff member present. During the meeting, they can become familiar with and negotiate needed services, such as timing, frequency, and meals.

For successful competitions, a group chat is set up with an employee of the charity present supervising. The charity maintains close contact with both childminders and service users, conducting random unannounced visits during childminder sessions, Ms Tay said.