Premier Lin Chuan at a Cabinet meeting today highlighted the importance of expanding public day care services for preschool-age children, saying that the government is aiming to increase the percentage of children served by the public day care system from the current 30 percent to 40 percent by 2020.
Briefed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) on a plan to increase public day care services, Lin instructed the MOE to promptly finalize the plan and submit it to the Executive Yuan for approval. He added that while implementing the plan, the MOE should also conduct on-going reviews and raise its targets as needed.
While supporting local authorities to build more nonprofit preschools, the MOE should also take into account the gap between urban and rural development and give local governments leeway to accommodate regional differences, Lin said. He directed the MOE to help and guide local governments to make more idle campus space available to nonprofit preschools.
The growth in public day care services in the future will inevitably impact private, for-profit preschools, so the government will devise ways to provide sufficient incentives to transform private preschools and make them part of the public day care system. The government will encourage those that continue to operate privately to offer higher salaries to attract quality teaching staff, provide affordable services, and better serve the needs of the public.
The MOE’s target is for 40 percent of children to have access to public day care services. The government will inventory and release unused public space, amend related regulations, and earmark a NT$6.2 billion (US$196.95 million) budget to help local authorities add 1,000 public day care classes between 2017 and 2020, primarily in nonprofit preschools and supplemented by public preschools. Parents will be assured of more affordable quality public day care services, with married women—traditionally the family’s chief child care provider—able to return to work, thus increasing female participation in the work force.
The MOE said the program to expand public day care services will create over 2,000 jobs for those aspiring to become preschool teachers or child care providers. The MOE also looks to run a pilot project to form partnerships with quality private preschools that would offer tuition fee discounts for a certain number of children from disadvantaged households. This will integrate the resources of public and private preschools in ways that benefit both the schools and the public.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is also providing comprehensive support to increase the number of child care workers, match unemployed child care workers with parents in need, shore up child care provider salaries by providing subsidies, ensuring transparent pricing and setting up a management mechanism, and reducing parents’ financial burden to increase their willingness to employ child care workers. The goal is to ensure that parents can balance their childrearing and job responsibilities by creating a professional, trustworthy and safe child care system.