CHILDCARE services are a necessity, no longer a luxury.
Regulated childcare centres are a must because, unlike before, both parents are forced to work nowadays to make ends meet, says Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj.
Childcare is a critical service, he feels. And taking care of kids isn’t easy. Minders must be skilled and competent. Leaving kids at unlicensed and unregulated centres is dangerous because a child’s future is at risk, he stresses.
“The Government has to help families cope by ensuring that we have access to affordable childcare services. It’s a basic right. At the same time, operators have to make a profit,” he says, adding that parents cannot expect operators to continue a loss-making business.
Datuk Dr Raj Karim reminds parents that times have changed. She is president of the Malaysian Council for Child Welfare, an umbrella body comprising more than 30 non-governmental organisations that works with the United Nations Children’s Fund to create awareness in Malaysia about child injury and accidents.
Leaving your young child with the neighbour is risky, she insists. Unsupervised care have led to many cases of neglect, abuse and maltreatment.
It’s not like those days when babysitters were sincere in wanting to help. Now, it’s all about the money, she says.
“I was a working mother and a makcik helped look after my family but she was loyal and close to us. These days, most people don’t even know their next door neighbours.
“Is your babysitter mentally sound? Does she have family members who could potentially harm your child? What about accidents at home?” she says.
Urging the Government to regulate childcare fees, Dr Raj says some centres’ fees are exorbitant. If fees are regulated, the Government can subsidise households that don’t earn enough for childcare. Only with accessible quality childcare can a mother return to the workforce, she stresses.
“Quality care during early childhood is an essential, basic right. That’s when emotional, mental and character development, takes place,” she adds.