To alleviate the national security issue posed by the declining birth rate, the government is expanding fertility treatment subsidies and building a supportive, friendly environment for pregnancy and childrearing. Amendments to the Early Childhood Education and Care Act are also diversifying service models for childhood education and care, and expediting the addition of slots at public preschools and child care facilities.
Since July 2018, the government has promoted an array of measures to counter declining birth rates such as increasing affordable education and care service capacities, reducing tuition costs, granting childrearing allowances, and raising salaries for child care and education personnel. Through all these measures, the government is throwing its full support behind childrearing households, giving young people the confidence to marry and start a family.
■ Expand fertility treatment subsidies: Beginning July 2021, the in vitro fertilization subsidy program was expanded from only covering low income and lower-middle income households, to now covering all couples where at least one spouse is of Taiwanese nationality.
■ Increase affordable education and care capacity: In addition to more public child care facilities, quasi-public services are also being expanded through collaboration with residential child care (nanny) and private infant care centers that meet the required standards. More public and nonprofit preschools are being established through utilization of available space within schools and publicly-owned land. The government is encouraging public and private sector organizations to invest in new preschools, as well as encouraging qualified private preschools to partner through the quasi-public mechanism, thereby providing parents with a greater choice of affordable schooling for their children.
■ Raise childrearing allowances: Childrearing allowances for children ages 0-6 were raised to NT$5,000 (US$155) per month, with additional allowances of NT$6,000 for the second child and NT$7,000 for the third child and beyond. Tuition subsidies for children ages 5-6 enrolled at private preschools were adjusted in accordance with childrearing allowances. Eligibility for these allowances was also expanded to include families receiving parental leave-without-pay subsidies and disadvantaged households collecting other subsidies.
■ Lower child care and education fees: Starting in 2024, child care subsidies for children ages 0-2 attending public and quasi-public care centers will increase to NT$7,000 and NT$13,000, respectively, with additional subsidies for the second and third children and beyond, as well as for low income and lower-middle income households and disadvantaged families. For children ages 2-6 attending public, nonprofit or quasi-public preschools, tuition fees are capped at NT$1,000, NT$2,000 and NT$3,000 per month, respectively, with further reductions for the second and third children and beyond.
■ Raise employee salaries: Monthly starting salaries for personnel working in public child care services were raised to over NT$35,000. For personnel working in quasi-public child care and teaching staff and educare providers working in quasi-public preschools, minimum monthly salaries were raised according to three tiers—NT$30,000, NT$33,000 and NT$36,000—based on level of seniority.
■ Provide an incentive structure: The government is providing grants of up to NT$500,000 per additional caregiver per year for child care centers that hire to a child-to-caregiver ratio of 4:1. Depending on their size, quasi-public child care centers are eligible for grants ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$1.2 million to pay for facilities, equipment and operating costs. Additionally, quasi-public nanny services that upgrade their service quality will receive an increased allowance of NT$12,000 per nanny per year.
■ Reduce student-teacher ratios: Measures are being gradually rolled out at public preschools for children ages 3-5 starting August 2023, and at quasi-public preschools starting August 2024, to accomplish the twin goals of 12:1 student-teacher ratios in each class and maximum class sizes of 24.