KUALA LUMPUR – Childcare providers are over the moon with the benefits they will receive under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).
Taksa I-Aulad owner Siti Laili Suhaila Mohamad Zainal, 38, described the initiatives as a lifeline that would help childcare centres ramp up Covid-19 safety measures and pay their premises' rental.
"The one-off grant of up to RM5,000 can be used for rental, premises' sanitisation and to provide face masks. This announcement will help us to get back on track.
"We reopened on June 1 and accept only about one-third of the children. The parents have been accommodating with the health screenings and our standard operating procedure (SOP)."
The childcare centre in Shah Alam is asking parents to shower and change their clothes before picking up their children, if possible.
Siti Laili said Taksa I-Aulad conducted temperature screening three times daily.
On the government's decision to allow childcare centres to open in stages during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), Siti Laili said it was the right move.
"By doing so, we can adapt to the new normal and deal with a smaller number of children at a time."
She said operators should register their centres with the government so that they could gain access to the government's incentives. She said many of her peers who did not register or failed to provide updates on their centres could not receive help from the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and, most likely, the one-off grant from the government too.
To encourage childcare centres to comply with the new normal and healthcare SOP, the government has agreed to give a one-off grant of up to RM5,000 per childcare centre registered with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (up to Dec 31).
The government estimates about 8,000 centres will benefit.
Suzaina Othman, who owns Taska Talian Kasih Bandar Country Homes in Rawang, Selangor, and has 30 years of experience in childcare services, echoed Siti Laili's views on how the grant could help her with the rental payment.
She said the extra money could help in paying for sanitising services, which could cost her about RM400, and for face masks and items needed to protect her 20 staff members.
She shared her concerns when more parents stopped sending their chidren to the centre.
"While I am grateful for the (government) aid, I cannot say for sure what the future will look like for us (in childcare services).
"The pandemic has affected many, including us. Childcare providers have started seeing parents stop sending children to them."
Nur Aina Farhani Mohamad Nassruddin, a mother of two boys, said while she lauded the efforts to help those in the childcare industry, she had concerns about the centres' SOP, staff's willingness to follow the SOP, and parents' readiness to cooperate.
"The initiatives will help kindergarten and childcare centres financially to care for our children.
"However, I am worried that the centres may use the allocation for non-Covid-19-related expenses since they've gone through a few months without business. Can the ministry help them out?
"I am grateful for what the government has done to help, but I hope this aid can continue on a regular basis so that these centres will adhere to the health SOP and keep our children safe."
Nur Aina urged the authorities to enforce the rules, conduct checks and penalise those who put any child in danger by not abiding by the standard operating procedure.
Mother-of-two Izzati Syed Hamdan urged parents to be honest about their children's health status and details when they sent their children to the centres.
"During the CMCO and the Movement Control Order, I made sure that my children stayed at home.
"I hope parents who take their children along when they go out will take precautions, including letting the centre know (about their movement).
"If there is any emergency (including having positive Covid-19 cases), their honesty will help the centres to inform other parents. Parents have to be responsible and truthful.
"I don't have issues with the centres as long they follow the SOP."
Source: New Straits Times https://bit.ly/3cN38bO