SIBU: All government agencies must set aside some funds from their operational budget to set up child daycare centres at their work places, according to Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.
She said today that government agencies should not wait for the ministry’s grant which was meant to kick-start and help the setting up of the centres at frontline agencies such as hospitals.
“We have audited and there are 541 agencies that are without daycare. They should not wait for us to give a grant to set up because these are government agencies, which means in their own budget, they have to prioritise it.
“So all the directors for all the agencies, secretaries-general and all, they have to see how out of their operational budget they have to set aside funds to do this,” she added.
Yeoh was speaking at a press conference after presenting the Public Sector Daycare Centre Grant to Sibu Hospital, Sarawak Social Welfare Department (Kuching), Limbang Prison Department and UiTM Samarahan Campus at Sibu Hospital here, which received RM80,000, RM195,000, RM140,000 and RM100,000, respectively.
She said the grant was from the RM10 million approved by the Ministry of Finance under the 2019 Budget and with it a total of 66 daycare centres or Taska for the public sector can be set up.
“We have prioritised this for staff and their children below four years old. Because at five and six they will go to kindergarten.
“Priority is really for those working night shifts. So 19 of the 66 go to government hospitals. The rest are for frontline agencies such Prison Department, police, and Fire and Rescue Department,” she said, adding that so far 101 agencies have applied for the grant.
Sibu Hospital is the first hospital in Malaysia to receive the grant and there are 15 children sent to the centre it had set up in the middle of this year.
“This is mainly for the nurses and their children. The taska in Hospital Sibu operates from 6am to 9pm. This really helps those who cannot find childcare outside, and yet they have to serve the government and serve the country with their shift work, so they can work with peace of mind,” said Yeoh.
She also hoped with this effort the government can retain women in the workforce as they do not have to give up their jobs to look after their children at home.
The Segambut MP also urged all state governments to give allocations for their own agencies to set up daycare centres under their budget for next year.
The deputy minister earlier visited the Sibu Agape Centre on Alan Road. — Bernama