Costly daycare drives some parents to unregistered babysitters

More and more parents are forced to send their children to unregulated babysitters due to the exorbitant charges levied by most registered daycare centres. — Reuters pic
More and more parents are forced to send their children to unregulated babysitters due to the exorbitant charges levied by most registered daycare centres. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Parent have few options when it comes to caring for their children if they have to work. 

They may be lucky if they have family members or relatives to rely on with the only other “safe” option being to send them to daycare centres.

Daycare centres are required to be registered with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.

However, the exorbitant charges levied by these centres are forcing more and more parents to seek the alternative — unregulated babysitters. 

Recent cases of child abuse by babysitters and maids highlight  the desperation parents facing despite the abundance of daycare centres in the country. 

Last year 2,910 daycare centres were registered with the ministry. They include 864 registered for the first time. 

Checks by The Malay Mail found daycare centres charging between RM380 and a whopping RM2,200 per child a month. In comparison, a private babysitter may charge an average of RM20 an hour or RM750 a month for daycare service.

Charges also differ according to the location of the centre with the lowest at RM380 a month in Shah Alam and the high-end RM2,200 in Ara Damansara. 

Other centres like in Ampang, Bangsar and Petaling Jaya charge RM500 to RM850 a month.

Daycare centres and private babysitters provide care from 8am to 6pm from Monday to Friday and weekend childcare depends on availability with extra charges.

There are centres and babysitters who can be engaged from 3pm onwards.

Working parents unable to fetch their child at 6pm are required to pay overtime charges of between RM10 and RM50 per hour.

Daycare centres levy additional charges like a one-off payment of annual fees, a month's deposit with a month's advance fee payment and yearly semester fees while private babysitters are more flexible with their requirements.

Parents are also required to bring their children's milk formula, disposable diapers and toiletries. Some even require parents to prepare and bring food for their children. 

Most daycare centres provide extra services like teaching modules and other educational activities while private babysitters provide only care for the child.

Parents are also charged at least RM1,500 a month for extra services like art and calligraphy classes.

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