The government is “spending excessively to promote” questionable new childcare policies implemented by the Ministry of Education in January, civic organizations said yesterday.
The government says the childcare policies are aimed at integrating kindergartens and infant care centers, but civic groups, such as the Childcare Policy Alliance, questioned the approach during a press conference in Taipei.
The alliance said the government was exaggerating its ability to make day care more widely available by opening more care centers. It said the plan to extend care to toddlers younger than two would be financially unsustainable and result in an uneven distribution of childcare resources between cities and counties.
According to estimates by the alliance, the policy would require more than NT$10,000 per child in subsidies to be paid by a combination of the central and local governments.
The high costs would make it difficult for local governments to make care centers widely available, alliance program director Wang Chao-ching (王兆慶) said.
Calling the policy “outrageous,” the group said the government’s publicity of the program has left the impression that grandparents taking care of grandchildren are entitled to childcare subsidies as long as they complete a 126-hour “babysitting” course.
Many people have signed up for the course, meaning there isn’t enough open spaces available for prospective nannies to receive training, a press release by the Taiwan Women’s Link said.
According to government statistics, there are 15,000 licensed nannies working in government-run community networks that care for about 20,000 children, or 5 percent of the total number of Taiwanese children, Wang said. By contrast, 40 percent of the nation’s children are cared for by their grandparents, Wang said.
Previously, Article 18 of the Child Education and Care Act (幼兒教育及照顧法) mandated a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:15 for two to three-year-olds, and it allowed children in this age group to receive care with older children, the alliance said.
However, the revised act changed the teacher-to-student ratio to 1:8 and now requires two to three-year-olds to attend separate classes, which will double costs for care centers, the alliance said.
After-school care regulations drafted by the Department of Social Education also deleted rules specifying the government’s role and responsibility in providing services that meet the needs of parents and children, giving the government a free pass, the alliance said, adding that 135,000 elementary school students would be affected by the draft.