PUTRAJAYA: About 7,000 operators of childcare centres are expected to receive grants of up to RM5,000 each allocated to them by the government under the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun said the offer of the one-off grant will hopefully encourage unlicensed childcare service providers to register their centres with the ministry as only registered nurseries are entitled to the grant.
“As of now, 5,700 nurseries are registered with the ministry. We expect more unlicensed operators to come forward to be registered.
“Almost 5,000 operators have been affected by the shutdown following the enforcement of Movement Control Order,” she told reporters at her office at the launch of the special Penjana incentives for target groups under the ministry’s scope, namely children, single mothers, persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
To be eligible for the grant, childcare centres that are not registered yet with the Women, Family and Community Development ministry have up to Dec 31, 2020, to do so.
Rina said to reopen their centres, childcare operators would be required to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and her ministry.
MUST ADHERE TO GUIDELINES
“The special grant will be of help to many of these registered operators that are facing financial problems. The grant is offered not only to childcare institutions and those set up at workplaces but also the (registered) homebased ones which can get RM1,500,” said Rina.
Rina said as of June 23 this year, applications for grants have been received from a total of 1,766 nurseries comprising 1,475 childcare institutions, 122 workplace nurseries and 169 homebased nurseries.
“All nurseries must adhere to the guidelines on the prevention of Covid-19 infection post-Movement Control Order for the safety of the children and workers,” she said, adding that to date 1,460 childcare centres nationwide have reopened.
MOH and the Social Welfare Department (JKM) are also in the meantime carrying out checks on them continuously to ensure SOP compliance, she added.
Under the Penjana initiatives – which were announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on June 5 – incentives totalling RM152 million have been approved for the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry’s various target groups.
On the Early Childcare and Education (ECE) course for which participants are given an incentive of RM900 each, Rina said the course is mostly conducted online and that its syllabus has been modified in accordance with the new normal while its duration has been shortened from six to three months.
“The ECE course opens up opportunities for childminders who don’t possess the necessary certification and wish to register their services,” she added.
Describing the incentives provided under Penjana and Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package as a “lifeline” for women, including working and non-working mothers, Rina said women entrepreneurs are also entitled to benefits under a special RM50 million allocation for them by another ministry.
Muhyiddin has also said previously that more than 300,000 single mothers and persons with disabilities (OKU) registered with JKM will receive a one-off payment of RM300 before Hari Raya Aidiladha to relieve their financial burden.
To date, 150,000 single mothers and 190,000 OKU are registered with JKM, Rina said, adding that eligible single mothers who have not registered yet can do so either online or manually.
“We expect an increase in the number of applicants as many people have lost their jobs and are facing financial problems,” she said.
On the initiative to encourage government-linked companies (GLCs) to carry out programmes to build the socio-economic capacity of needy communities, Rina said her ministry has entered into strategic collaborations with GLCs and private companies to empower people to rise above the challenges and resume their businesses or get a job.
“Collaborations with our strategic partners are essential as they have expertise and experience in certain aspects,” she said, adding that the collaboration is also aimed at creating more job opportunities for women.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development extended aid to about two million households comprising not only those living below the national poverty line but also those in the B40 and M40 groups whose sources of income were affected. — Bernama