ALL unlicensed childcare centres, including kindergartens and nurseries, under the jurisdiction of Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) must apply for an operating licence or risk being penalised.
There are currently 423 of such centres in Shah Alam but only 152 of them are licensed.
According to MBSA, a majority of the unlicensed ones are in Setia Alam, where childcare centres have been mushrooming, especially in new neighbourhoods.
“We also see many in Section 7 and in the Shah Alam town area but a majority of them are in Setia Alam.
“We notice that these centres usually start operating either in December or January as they do not want to lose out on registration, ” said MBSA town planning officer Hazlin Ibrahim after conducting checks on five childcare centres in the Setia Impian and Setia Permai neighbourhoods.
The visits were done with the state Welfare Department and Fire Department.
She explained that no compounds were issued during the checks because their aim was to raise awareness and reiterate to operators the importance of getting their premises licensed for the sake of the children under their care.
“Most of the unlicensed childcare centres here have actually received the green light for their application but are not allowed to operate yet because the operators have to undergo training before the licence to operate is approved, ” Hazlin said.
She added that the building must be certified safe by the Fire Department and comply with the Welfare Department’s regulations.
However, most operators jump the gun and start operating even before approvals are given.
During the site visit, StarMetro noticed that there were three to four childcare centres operating in one neighbourhood.
A check with MBSA revealed that there was no limit to the number of childcare centres which could operate in one neighbourhood.
“According to state town planning guidelines, there should be one designated building allocated for a childcare centre for every 200 houses.
“But because there are various syllabuses and curriculums out there, we give operators the opportunity to set up more than one centre in each neighbourhood, ” Hazlin said.
However, every childcare centre must adhere to the strict guidelines set by various parties and in a corner lot unit which is not situated in a cul-de-sac.
MBSA will continue their checks on unlicensed premises and issue notices to operators.
If operators still fail to comply, then action will be taken 30 days after the notice is issued.
“We can take the operators to court under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172), ” she said.
Under the Act, these charges carry jail time of no more than two years, a fine of up to RM500,000 or both.
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