Cheaper fees, please

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 11 Sep 2016

QUALITY childcare is expensive.

Zuhainy Zulkiffli, 33, sends her kids to an unregistered childcare centre in George Town because it’s what the family can afford.

Registered centres charge more than RM400 per child, which she feels is too much.

The unregistered centre her four-month-old son, Izz Zaryl Zaharin, and three-year-old daughter, Zandra Zahara, go to only charges between RM300 and RM350.

The working mother was heartbroken when she found out that Zandra had been abused at a previous centre.

However, she disagrees with a fee hike. She thinks it’s unfair to parents.

“One care provider can take care of a few kids. Don’t tell me the operators cannot make a profit. Many of my friends were forced to quit their jobs because centres are charging too much as it is,” she argues.

A father who wants to go only by Tan, 40, sent his newborn to a babysitter until the boy was two. He paid RM1,000 per month to the aunty next door. From age two to four, his son was left at a childcare centre in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

“For RM650, they look after my son from 8am to 7pm. It’s reasonable. I’m not sure if the centre is legal but it’s very popular,” he shrugs.

Like Tan, Jennifer Kong, 40, sends her daughter to a babysitter because it’s convenient and cheap.

Besides the monthly RM700 fee, the aunty gets 14 days of leave, a Chinese New Year ang pow, and a yearly bonus.

“I buy the ingredients for aunty to cook so I’m not worried about what she’s feeding my daughter. Aunty has been caring for her since she was three months old. She’s four now,” she says.

There’s a big difference when your child goes to a good, registered centre, says Koh Chee Khian, 45.

The RM3,000-plus he pays per semester is “not cheap” but he feels it’s worth it because his son gets the best food – like churros – and attention.

The main reason for sending his first born to a centre is so that the child learns to socialise and share.

“My boy started going to the centre in Bangsar (KL) when he was 16 months. He’s there eight hours a day, twice a week.

“This centre is among the best and the environment is really different from the cheaper ones where there are just too many kids,” he says.

But despite coming from a dual-income household, Koh says he will have to look for somewhere less pricey as he’s planning to send his son for full-day care next year.

“No doubt the current centre is very good. My son is disciplined, can colour, sing and dance at such a young age. I would never trust an illegal centre to care for him,” he says.

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