Thu, May 08, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Survey indicates childcare scheme misses the mark

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of the Interior's (MOI) program to subsidize childcare costs is not helping enough parents because of its strict criteria, a survey released by the Children's Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) showed yesterday.

Under the ministry’s scheme, dual income families with a combined annual income not exceeding NT$1.5 million (US$49,000) and a child aged under two are entitled to receive a NT$3,000 monthly childcare subsidy if they hire babysitters listed on the ministry’s community babysitter network.

To be on the list, a babysitter must first complete a childcare training course and pass an exam to obtain a babysitting certificate.

GOOD INTENTIONS

Despite the program’s good intentions, it is not working so smoothly in practice, a survey with 1,081 valid samples from mothers across the nation showed.

Announcing the survey’s findings, Alicia Wang (王育敏), executive director of the foundation, told a news conference in Taipei yesterday: “Our survey found that 56.8 percent of mothers don’t know what the ‘community babysitting network’ is — nearly 30 percent of them have never even heard of it.”

Lack of publicity isn’t the only problem — among the 6 percent of mothers who have used the service, 33 percent said they’re not satisfied with the network, the survey showed.

“The mothers surveyed told us that certified babysitters are more expensive — they pay NT$10,000 per month for an unlicensed babysitter, but NT$15,000 for a licensed babysitter,” Wang said. “The subsidy doesn’t cover the difference.”

Further questions revealed that about 80 percent of mothers do not qualify for the pension because they don’t hire a babysitter, while a little over 21 percent of parents do not qualify because they are not dual-income families.

RELATIVES

“We found that 34.9 percent of mothers would rather take care of their children themselves, while about 40 percent of parents left their children with their grandparents or other relatives,” Wang said. “They have the same burden as those dual-income families who hire licensed babysitters — so why are they not covered by the scheme?”

She said that there are families in poverty, who simply cannot afford to hire a babysitter, adding, “Who will take care of them?”

Wang then urged the government to change the criteria so that more parents qualify to receive the babysitting subsidy and to provide more diverse childcare and parent consulting services.

“The survey found that many mothers have to look after their babies at night and work during the day,” she said. “I would therefore suggest the government provide more diverse childcare services, such as nighttime, extended, at-home or temporary childcare services.”

“In the meantime, psychological or childcare counseling services should be available too,” Wang said.

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