A SPECIAL savings account scheme to help young children is being expanded next month.
Details were released yesterday of 700 new outlets taking part in the government programme.
Parents will now be allowed to use the Child Development Account to buy spectacles or prescription medicine for their children.
And those with disabled youngsters will be able to purchase devices to make life easier, such as special computer equipment.
At the moment, the accounts - which are co-funded by the Government - can be used only at approved institutions like kindergartens and clinics to pay for expenses such as childcare fees and medical services.
The account is closed when the child reaches six. But from next year, this age limit will be raised to 12.
More details on the expanded scheme will be announced later.
The changes were first announced by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean during the Budget debate in March.
He said many children had substantial savings in their accounts at the age of six. At the same time, their families still faced many expenses related to their care.
Businesses and parents told The Straits Times that the funds would come in handy for pricey items such as mobility aids, which were previously unaffordable for young needy parents.
'Hearing aids are very expensive nowadays and some parents who cannot afford it will buy only one side for their kids. The funds will enable a greater take-up rate for such devices,' said Dr Christopher Low, president of The Singapore Association for the Deaf.
Ms Emily Ang, a mother of two, welcomed the age change.
'Now, the needs of the older kids can be better met, like spectacles which can cost a lot these days,' said the 33-year-old teacher.
Other parents said they hope that the cap on the account can be raised. It is currently $6,000 to $18,000, depending on whether the child is the family's first, second, third, and so on.
'For working parents like myself, most of the funds go to childcare expenses and there is little left for other purposes,' said teacher Andrew Kang, 40, who has four children.