Becoming a parent is exciting. You step into a new world of joy with your newborn just beginning to recognize your face and all sorts of congratulations being in order.
However, parenthood also comes with a great deal of responsibility and expenses. For most parents, there are days when they struggle to provide for their children in the best ways possible – be it due to physical, mental, or financial constraints.
Having a child in Singapore is considerably costly. One can spend up to $15,000 just during the entire process of pregnancy through childbirth – and that is all before the real expenses incur. Parents are reportedly having to spend up to $20,000 for raising their child only within the first year of childbirth. There are new costs of medical care, vaccines, essential commodities, and much more.
The Singaporean government is extremely supportive when it comes to having and raising children. Since the fertility rate was reported to be only 1.14 in 2019, the Singaporean government has been working towards making parenthood simple and affordable for all civilians.
To facilitate new parents with the costs of childbirth, healthcare, and educational expenses, the Singaporean government has successfully introduced a wide range of grants available to parents as soon as their baby is born.
The Coronavirus Pandemic and Parenthood
The COVID-19 pandemic is now beginning to show effects on factors apart from health concerns. Due to uncertain economic conditions, unfavorable employment prospects and increased health concerns, people are becoming increasingly concerned about their marriage and parenthood plans.
In a recent survey conducted by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) that consisted of approximately 4,000 Singaporeans showed a high trend towards a delay in marriage and childbirth. Results of the research concluded that 30% of Singaporeans are now likely to put their marriage plans on hold due to the ongoing pandemic and its far-reaching effects on the healthcare system and economic conditions.
To further understand the downward trend in parenthood, it was shown that 76% of those in favor of delays were likely to delay having children for up to 2 years. The remaining 24 per cent of participants were either unsure about how far they would delay their plans or were planning to delay for more than 2 years.
This situation is of great concern to the Singaporean authorities. Such significant delays in marriage and parenthood is likely to result in smaller families in the future – thus impacting the Singaporean economy in the long run. To combat the problem, the government was quick to come up with plans to support future parents as much as possible.
The Baby Support Grant
On October 9th, the Prime Minister announced the Baby Support Grant which allows children born between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2022 a one-time grant of S$3,000. The main reason behind this new grant is to ease the struggle of the new parents who have chosen to raise a child amidst the ongoing uncertain economic conditions.
The payments of the Baby Support Grant are scheduled to begin from April 1, 2021 – giving prospective parents enough time to enroll themselves for the grant.
Additionally, the new Baby Support Grant does not collide with the Singaporean governments existing Baby Bonus cash gift that is given to hundreds of parents annually. The Grant will be provided in addition to the cash gift and can add up to a grand total of up to S$13,000.
The money from both the Baby Support Grant and the Baby Bonus scheme is to be deposited into the bank account of parents who have registered.
Baby Bonus Cash Gift
The Singaporean government has always been in support of new parents in hopes of increasing their fertility rate. The government, on multiple occasions, has acknowledged the importance of strong familial bonds that will lead to a strengthened economic and social system for Singapore.
To aid the parents of newborns with the hefty expenses of having and raising a child in Singapore, they have administered the Baby Bonus Cash Gift for years now. Depending upon the birth order of their children, parents are given cash amounts ranging from S$8,000 to S$10,000.
For the first two children, parents are given a total of S$8,000 within a period of one and a half year from childbirth. Payments are divided into an initial $3,000 within 10 days of birth, $1,500 at 6-months old, $1,500 at 12-months old, $1,000 at 15-months old and a final $1,000 at 18-months old.
For the third and subsequent children, parents are provided with a total of $10,000 in cash. This is divided into $4,000 at birth, $2,000 at 6-months old, $2,000 at 12-months old, $1,000 at 15-months old, and $1,000 at 18-months old.
This cash gift serves as a great incentive for parents to continue having children and building bigger families in Singapore. Since raising children is expensive in terms of healthcare and education, this grant plays a significant role in easing the struggles of parents and allows them to save money for their children’s future.
Child Development Account
To further assist Singaporeans with the costs of raising children, the Child Development Account (CDA) is set up as part of the baby bonus scheme. Unlike the Baby Support Grant or the Baby Bonus Cash Gift, the money in the CDA can only be used to pay for expenses such as education and medical care at government approved organizations.
The CDA was initiated in Singapore back in 2016, with all children being born after March 24 of that year set to receive a standard $3,000 amount in their account. Since the CDA is designed as a savings account for children, the government does dollar-for-dollar matching for any amount added to the child’s account.
For the first two children, the government’s dollar-for-dollar matching scheme has a maximum of $3,000. This means that if a parent were to add $2,000 to their first or second child’s CDA, the government would match this account by adding $2,000 from their end as well.
For the third and fourth child, the government maximum dollar-for-dollar matching amount increases to $9,000. For fifth or more children, the government promises to match an amount up to $15,000 in the CDA.
The CDA for your child must be opened in a bank as a savings account. Parents have the liberty to choose between three banks: OCBC, UOB, and POSB. It is highly recommended to opt for the bank in which you already have an account for yourself since it makes it convenient to monitor the CDA. Remember, the Child Development Account will be tied to the parents’ name.
Another effort by the government to support new parents is through their Medisave Grant scheme for Newborns. All children born in Singapore receive a grant of up to $4,000 in their Medisave account that can be utilized for a range of medical expenses.
The best part about the Medisave grant is that parents are not required to register for the scheme as the money is automatically deposited into a Medisave account under your child’s name. You can then use the money in this account to pay for expenses such as MediShield Life Premiums, private shield plans, and even any hospitalization that may occur during the life of your child.
Non-Governmental Support for New Parents
There is only so much that the government can do for new parents.
Apart from governmental grants, the Prime Minister stated that she hopes to see private businesses follow in the same direction to help new parents become familiar with parenthood. This could include helping working parents develop a healthy work-life balance and making commodities more affordable and accessible for new families.
A great example of how companies can help promote parenthood can be taken from the international baby brand, Mothercare. The company has offered to provide VIP membership to all Singaporean parents who have children until October 2021, making them eligible to avail exclusive offers and discounts on products.
The government hopes that other organizations will also become inspired by this step and introduce offers or discounts that aid new parents in minimizing the costs of raising a child in the Singaporean economy, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Final Word
It must be noted that the Singaporean government is trying to play a huge role in easing the struggles of new parents. Compared to other parts of the world, there are very few countries who may be providing the same kinds of grants to newborn children, if any.
When the most recent Baby Support Grant was announced in October 2020, the Prime Minister specifically added that the government plans to support aspiring couples and parents even more due to the uncertain conditions that the pandemic has brought.
With the new Baby Support Grant, it can be hoped that prospective parents stop delaying their plans to have children and choose to avail the current opportunities provided by the government.
Ultimately, the Singaporean government believes that strong familial bonds is the key to a successful future for the entire country.