Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) The Cabinet on Thursday approved a revised plan to subsidize childcare, expanding it to high-income families, with the aim of increasing Taiwan’s shrinking birth rate.
The annual budget for the program has been increased by NT$5.5 billion (US$171.41 million) to more than NT$100 billion, and it will also cover higher salaries for childcare workers at various levels, with effect from next year, the Cabinet said.
Currently, the government allocates NT$80 billion per year for its childcare subsidy program, under which low- to mid-income families receive NT$5,000 per month for each child under 5 years old. Families at that income level with children under 2 years old who are attending public care centers are given NT$5,500 per month, while those with kids at quasi-public care centers are receiving NT$8,500.
For children ages 2-5 attending public, nonprofit or quasi-public preschools, monthly tuition fees are capped at NT$3,000, under the current program.
As part of the government’s efforts to boost Taiwan’s flagging birthrate, all of those subsidies will be extended to families with an annual income of NT$1.21 million and over, with effect from January 2023, the Cabinet said, after approving the revised plan on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the monthly salary of workers at public childcare centers will be raised from the current NT$28,000 to NT$35,000, when the new plan takes effect next year.
Caregivers at quasi-public childcare centers and teachers and educare givers at quasi-public preschools will also receive a pay hike to between NT$30,000 and NT$36,000, based on their length of service, according to the Ministry of Education.
The ministry also said that 75,000 preschool educators at public and quasi-public childcare centers will receive an increased monthly subsidy of NT$2,000 each, from the current NT$900.
Childcare centers that are willing to implement the ideal staff-to-child ratio of 1:4 will be given subsidies of up to NT$500,000 per year, according to the Cabinet.
As an incentive, the government will offer one-time assistance of NT$400,000-NT$800,000 to some 1,100 quasi-public childcare centers to improve their facilities and equipment, the Cabinet said.
An estimated 22,000 licensed nannies in Taiwan who provide home-based childcare will each receive an increased annual subsidy of NT$12,000, from the current NT$5,000, to improve their childcare equipment and environment, according to the Cabinet.
The new policy is estimated to benefit a total of 300,000 people, according to the Cabinet.
This year, Taiwan recorded its lowest ever birth rate of 0.89 births per woman, way below the population maintenance rate of 2.1 births per woman. Taiwan, along with Japan and South Korea, remains at the bottom of the global fertility charts.