KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Government agencies, particularly those with shift workers and are in need of childcare centres have been urged to apply for funding made available through a RM30mil allocation in the 2020 Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also the Women, Family and Community Development Minister, said so far, only 36 agencies had applied for funding.
"We need to check on the agencies which have submitted applications... if they already have childcare centres, whether the application is for an upgrade and such," she said, during a press conference after officially opening the Childcare Centre in the Parliament building here on Friday (Feb 7).
Also present was Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof.
Earlier in her speech, Dr Wan Azizah said it was anticipated that the RM30mil allocation would facilitate the setting up of 150 more childcare centres in public workplaces across the country this year, compared to 64 centres last year with an allocation of RM10mil.
The establishment of childcare centres at individual workplaces will definitely ease the affairs of employees and their families, said Dr Wan Azizah, while explaining that priority would be given to applications from hospitals and schools, as well as agencies with shift workers.
The minister also said that until last month, 241 childcare centres at public workplaces across the country were operational, in line with the Pakatan Harapan administration's commitment to ensure that women played a vital role in the development of the country's economy.
She said statistics indicated that the number of female employees who were married was rising every year, with this group totalling 3.65 million until the third quarter of last year. This number was an increase from 3.54 million in 2018 and 3.41 million in 2017.
This rise, she said, directly increased the need for childcare centres.
"We want parents to have peace of mind knowing that their children are being well cared for and are safe. This matter can also help improve their performance at work because they are able to focus on their duties," Dr Wan Azizah explained.
The government, she said, was also undertaking efforts to streamline various childcare centres as well as early learning centres under various agencies including the Education Ministry, Rural Development Ministry and the National Unity and Integration Department.
This was to facilitate upgrades in the administration of the centres, and ensure the quality of care, education, personnel, safety and food.
Dr Wan Azizah also took the opportunity to call on the private sector to provide similar assistance to employees.
On the childcare centre in the Parliament building which became operational on Jan 2 this year, she expressed the hope that it would ease the work of employees there and parliamentarians, as well as members of the media reporting from Parliament.
So far, 50 children have been registered at the centre, with personnel numbering 13. – Bernama