Parliamentary Question: 7 May 2019
Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development in the last three years (a) how many complaints has the Ministry received with regard to alleged abuse by staff in Anchor Operator and Partner Operator childcare centres; (b) how many of these complaints have been investigated; and © what are the outcomes of these investigations.
Mr Desmond Lee: The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) takes a serious view of child mismanagement in preschools. ECDA will investigate every reported case by conducting unannounced centre visits, interviews and verification of records.
For serious cases, such as where there appears to be clear intent to harm the child, the case will be referred to the police for criminal investigation. Depending on the nature of the offence, the perpetrator may be prosecuted under the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) or other laws.
Over the past three years, there was an average of 15 reported cases of alleged child mismanagement in Anchor Operator and Partner Operator centres annually. Of these, over 60% were unsubstantiated. For the other cases, ECDA had issued warning letters to teachers for acts such as spanking or neglecting of children. These were found to be isolated incidents. ECDA had also issued warning letters to selected centres and shortened their licence tenure for not having adequate measures in place to support teachers’ classroom management. In this period, no teachers were convicted of an offence under the CYPA or any other law for child mismanagement.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)
The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.
She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).