A baby brings lots of joy and blessing to the family, but it is challenging for new parent to cope with a new baby. What are the common challenges that young families faced and how Budget 2016 can help them?
1. Families can’t fork out cash to save in CDA account
The cost of raising a baby does not come cheap – baby food, diaper, doctor’s fee, education and the list goes on. Besides the baby bonus, the government contributes to the Child Development Account (CDA) where the funds can be used for our child’s education and health care needs. How does it work?
The government matches dollar-for-dollar for the amount saved in the CDA. Thus, the savings will be matched up to a cap depending on the child’s birth order. For the first and second child, the maximum contribution by the government is $6,000 and for the third and fourth child, the maximum contribution is $12,000 and $18,000 for the fifth and subsequent child.
But not all parents are able to match up to the government’s contribution. There are good news for 2016 babies. With the announcement of Budget 2016, all babies born on or after 24th March 2016 will receive a $3,000 grant (First Step Grant) in their child’s CDA account (from 1st July), without having to make a matching deposit. This initiative will definitely benefit lower-income families who may face some difficulties topping up additional cash into the CDA.
“In trying to raise a family, any bit of disposable cash support, I think, will come in very useful”: MP Desmond Choo says initiatives introduced will be welcomed by young families. http://bit.ly/1pzQq7Z (Video: Justin Ong)
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Thursday, March 24, 2016
2. Mothers can’t cope alone with a newborn
It is challenging and stressful to cope with a new baby – the sleepless nights, the night feeds, the 20th nappy change for the day, the non-stop crying and more. It is physically and emotionally exhausting, especially for a new mother, who has barely recovered from childbirth and left to care for their needy little baby. Is one week of paid paternity leave sufficient? Why do fathers contemplate on whether they should take up the additional week voluntary paternity leave?
“Unless your work is easily covered by others, SMEs might find this difficult to approve,” John, a father of two commented.
“My hubby’s work place still won’t allow the 2nd week of paternity leave and I’m popping soon,” new mother, Ting explained.
It can be challenging for fathers to receive employer’s approval as the second week of paternity leave is not mandatory. Mr Desmond Choo, MP for Tampines GRC, was promoted to a father last year. He personally felt how much support mothers need during this period and wished he could spend more time to be there for his wife.
Picture: Desmond Choo distributing the “New Dads Survival Kit” to new dads
“Fathers want to be there for their wives and children, and I am no different. The one week of paternity leave is helpful, but most fathers would have used it during the few days after delivery. A second week of legislated paternity leave would help fathers be there for their wives and children, and at the same time, more can be done to encourage better take-up by fathers…we need to have family-centric workplace practices on par, in terms of level of importance, as our other economic policies.” – Desmond Choo as shared on Labour Movement’s blog.
Well, there are good news for parents. Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State, announced on 18 March that the 2 weeks of paternity leave will soon be made compulsory. This is exciting, fathers can now spend more time with their spouse and baby.
3. The Medisave withdrawal limit is not sufficient for pre-delivery medical care
The gynaecologist visits, scans and other medical check-ups prior to delivery can add up to a hefty sum. Parents-to-be can easily fork out between $1,200 to $1,500 for pre-delivery medical care, provided it is not a complicated pregnancy. The Medisave withdrawal limit of $450 is barely sufficient for all these expenses. Forking out additional cash for these medical care and checks can be challenging for some families.
➡️ Related Read: Comparison of Antenatal Costs and Patient Experience in Singapore
Now, we can fork out lesser cash during our pre-delivery medical care! After the announcement of Budget 2016, the government will double up the Medisave withdrawal limit for pre-delivery medical expenses from $450 to $900 with immediate effect. This will certainly reduce the need to top up more cash during gynaecologist visits.
4. Underprivileged families with young children need more support and benefits
The holistic development in a child’s early years is crucial for their overall development. Research has shown that a child’s early years have an effect on the person that they will grow to become. Thus, in recent years, there is more focus on how a quality education, supportive community and environment and meaningful childhood exposures will maximise a kids’ potential.
The new pilot initiative has been announced. KidSTART is set up to benefit families who may need financial and community support to give their children a good head-start in life. KidSTART will draw on government and community resources to help young children under the age of 6. These underprivileged children will receive support in their learning, developmental and health care services. This initiative is expected to benefit about 1,000 children.
With the enhanced benefits, Year 2016 does look like a great year for new parents and families. What are your thoughts on this? Share them with us.
For more information on Budget 2016, please visit www.singaporebudget.gov.sg
By Crystal Tan
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