AWARE recommends free childcare for low-income families

SINGAPORE: Provide free childcare for families whose monthly household income is less than S$2,500, enhance financial assistance scheme ComCare, and give better protection to casual workers.

These were among the recommendations the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has made to help women break out of poverty, after speaking to 47 low-income mothers who were actively trying to find work.

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On top of ComCare assistance after employment, the report suggested that the Government match savings by this group dollar for dollar. Currently, ComCare is cut off once beneficiaries find employment.

The report, titled “Why are you not working?”, was prompted by knowledge that women who were placed in jobs by a charity were not able to keep their jobs for long, said AWARE’s executive director Corinna Lim on Friday (Aug 10).

The charity that tried to place them was Daughters of Tomorrow, which supports low-income women by trying to find them work.

Ms Lim said that AWARE presented the findings of the report to representatives of government agencies about two weeks ago.

CHALLENGES THAT LOW-INCOME WOMEN FACE

The typical respondent was aged between 36 and 40, and had attained either N or O-Level education.

“Our findings show how mothers from low-income households are constrained by inadequate formal childcare, and prevailing working conditions that do not offer decent jobs. This has wide-reaching consequences on their lives and the next generations financial security,” AWARE said.

Among the challenges that these women face is the need to prove that they have worked a certain number of hours in order to qualify for subsidised childcare, but also being unable to go out to work with a lack of family support.

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In the case of those who secure places in childcare centres, these mothers are also unable to get care support when the childcare centre closes for functions, or when the child is not well.

According to the report, the women also faced a lack of CPF and leave benefits, and unlawful sacking, for example, when they were pregnant.

AWARE explained that 47 is a large sample size for qualitative research that went into the report. AWARE will host a panel discussion to launch the report publicly on Saturday.