Fri, Aug 30, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Preschool programs have helped 290,000 children

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The number of toddlers up to the age of two who have benefited from preschool education and subsidy programs has reached 290,000 since the program was expanded in August last year, while more than 80 percent of parents said that they are happy with the public kindergartens, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.

Since the Cabinet in August last year increased slots at public or semi-public kindergartens and expanded the subsidy program, the number of children aged up to two who have benefited from the policies had, as of last month, increased by about 100,000, Su said after a briefing by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

To ease the financial burden on parents, the government has since August last year established about 200 public kindergartens, which provide about 7,000 spaces for preschoolers, Su said.

Along with spaces at semi-public kindergartens, the total number of spaces added at affordable daycare centers has reached 74,000, he said.

Meanwhile, about 86.1 percent of all qualified “contract babysitters” have been booked by parents, with 20,671 of 24,008 such babysitters securing contracts, Social and Family Affairs Administration Director Chien Hui-chuan (簡慧娟) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.

Each babysitter is now taking care of 1.15 children on average, up from 0.88 in June last year, Chien said.

From June 30 last year to June 30 this year, 709 out of the 764 private kindergartens that were qualified to become government-subsidized semi-public institutions made the transition, providing a combined 25,510 spaces, she said.

The government last year earmarked NT$251.3 billion for child-rearing subsidies, as well as efforts to promote public and semi-public kindergartens until 2022, Chien said.

Meanwhile, a telephone poll conducted last month found that 87.6 percent of parents were happy with contract babysitters or the learning environment at public daycare centers, while 78.5 percent of respondents said they approved of the government’s effort to promote semi-public institutions, she said.

Asked if they agreed that semi-public kindergartens would help to ease their financial load, 83.4 percent said they did, Chien said.

Asked whether the subsidies would help ease their financial burden, 90.3 percent said that they would, while 90.9 percent approved of the Cabinet’s annulment of a rule that excluded parents in some professions from receiving the subsidies, she said.

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