By Yun Suh-young
Out of hundreds of newly-opened daycare centers across the nation, only a few are in the public sector, according to a survey by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The overall number has increased to 40,805 from 39,842 last year over 76 percent of them are private, with those in the public sector amounting to only 4.6 percent.
The survey shows that the government has neglected building public daycare centers despite its policy to provide free childcare services.
Ever since the implementation of such services for toddlers aged two and below in March, the number of children in this age group has increased by 166,000, twice the number of that recorded during the same period last year.
Only 35 childcare centers in workplaces and 15 alternative ones, such as the parents’ coalition of nurseries have been built. Thirteen childcare centers run by social welfare corporations have closed.
The number of children registered at the centers has increased by about 41,000, but because the number of daycare centers has also increased, the percentage of these filling their quota was equivalent to last year’s percentage of 83 percent. The phenomenon is attributed to the increase in the number of private centers.
Because there are too many private facilities, the welfare ministry plans to convert some of them into quasi-public centers to improve services. Public daycare centers are known to have better quality services compared to private ones because they are subsidized by the government.
“We will enhance the quality level of private daycare facilities up to the level of public ones step by step. Especially in low income areas or rural regions, we will establish more public childcare centers,” a welfare ministry official said.