‘Pay at least RM600 per child’

Too little: Norsheila said current charges for each child range between RM300-RM450 depending on state.

PETALING JAYA: Child minders are asking to be paid at least RM600 per child to break even and attract more trained workers. The shortage of these workers is one of the obstacles the industry is now facing.

At present, childcare workers are not being given adequate compensation for their work, which in developed countries are seen as a real profession instead of casual work.

Recurring cases of children dying under the care of often unregistered childcare providers highlighted the need for an overhaul of the childcare industry in Malaysia and a change in attitude among parents and the community towards childcare workers.

Association of Registered Child­care Providers Malaysia president Norsheila Abdullah said that the basic salary for childcare workers should be increased, as the minimum wage set by the Government did not cover them.

Norsheila said that at present, the charges for each child range between RM300 and RM450 depending on the state.

“While we understand that some parents can’t afford to pay higher fees, the operating cost is very high and we need to charge at least RM600 to break even,” she said.

She said that while a lot of students are graduating with early childhood education diplomas, they will not join the industry if they are paid lower wage.

“It is high time we look into the welfare of our registered childcare providers because if doctors and nurses are important, our profession should be seen as equally important as we are nurturing the children, who are our future,” she said.

The Government, she said, should allow registered childcare providers to charge no less than RM600 per child in order for the operators to break even or the government can subsidise part of the childcare providers’ salaries.

“For example, if we want to pay RM1,500 to our worker, the government can subsidise RM500. This will show that they view our profession as being crucial to the nation,” she said.

The hurdle however, lies with parents’ attitude towards the childcare industry.

A legal executive, who only wanted to be known as Emma, said that she did not ask for her one-year-old daughter’s babysitter qualifications before engaging in her services.

“The aspects I looked at were location and rates, I only met the sitter face to face when I dropped off my child the first time.

“I followed my gut feeling to decide on whether to continue sending my daughter there,” said the 30-year-old, adding that she has continued with the babysitter as her daughter seemed happy under her care.

She added that she did not send her daughter to registered nurseries because the ones she surveyed had too many children under their care or too few workers.

Emma said many parents might balk at paying higher fees for childcare as the average rate was RM500 monthly per child currently.

“I feel that some parents would be reluctant to pay higher childcare fees but if you have say, three kids, I don’t think many parents can afford to pay more than RM1,500 per month for childcare,” she said.

Former part-time babysitter Hannah, who used to do the job while studying for her Masters degree, agreed that a higher compensation would prompt childcare providers to perform better.

“I was paid RM50 an hour to look after one child, and I easily made RM500 per week.

“I felt that the salary matched my services and education. Of course I did it because I enjoyed taking care of children, but I would not have done it without proper compensation.

“I think when someone is paid less than they are worth, they won’t put in as much effort as they would have done had they been paid well,” said the 30-year-old, adding that while her babysitting company was registered, she did not go through formal training as a childcare provider.

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Family & Community , childcare , babysitters , law


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