Childcare for Pre-School Children

Understand the choices you have as a parent of pre-school children in the Netherlands...

The Dutch Act on Child Care (kinderdagverblijf) came into force on 1 January 2005. This act sets out rules for the quality and financing of child care and covers day care centres, after school care and host parents.

Under this act, the cost of formal childcare must be shared between parents, employers and the government, making it affordable to all income levels. The amount paid by the parents depends on income. If they both work, then both employers are expected to make a contribution. If the employer does not contribute then the government will do so. For those not in employment but involved in studying or reintegration courses, there may still be a contribution towards childcare costs.

Childcare expenses

Expenses for the care of children under 13 can be deducted. The following conditions apply: the taxpayer must have paid work for which they receive more than a fixed minimum salary. In the event that the taxpayer has a partner, both of them have to meet this condition.

The childcare arrangement has to meet a number of legal requirements: there is a maximum amount deductible per child but the deduction is only possible above a certain income-related threshold.

Childcare Options

There is no formal pre-school system in the Netherlands, although there are many private and local authority playgroups and crèches available. These come under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. There are a number of options for childcare.

Nannies

It is not common to employ a nanny in the Netherlands. If, however, this is the preferred option, please note that the employer (the employing family) is liable to pay social security for them, which is likely to prove expensive.

Au pairs

More popular than nannies, particularly where there are two or more young children and both parents work. Agencies who supply au pairs can be found in the Angloinfo Business Directory under "Child Care". The agency normally takes responsibility for checking references and language proficiency.

Private baby-sitters

These may be useful for evenings and shorter periods of time on an ad-hoc basis. Most neighbourhood magazines and some of the local expatriate websites post small ads with names of students offering babysitting services. Check with local schools or neighbours for recommendations. Most Dutch teenagers speak English well so communication should not prove an issue with small children. Hourly rates vary and more is usually paid after midnight.

Nurseries or playgroups (Peuterspeelzaal/Peutergroep)

It is common for these to be linked to a primary school and there is an emphasis on education as they try to prepare children between two and a half and four years for school. Children are supervised by professional teachers and it is common to book a child in for a number of sessions a week. Some of these nurseries/playgroups will only accept toilet-trained children and many will be Dutch speaking. However, there are English-language playgroups available particularly in and around The Hague. Your local municipality should be able to provide more details.

Childcare/day care centres (Kinderdagverbliff)

There is quite a lot of flexibility for children to attend day care centres full-time or part-time. These centres accept children from the age of six weeks old up to four years (when most will begin primary education). Qualified teachers take care of the children, supervising play, feeding them and allowing a nap if required. The food is usually provided, although parents are asked to supply nappies.

Demand for places is high and most have waiting lists so it is wise to put a child's name down as early as possible and perhaps with several centres. Typical hours are from 08:00 until 17:30 and children may stay up to 10 hours a day.

There are some privately-run centres as well and waiting lists for these tend to be shorter.

Host parents (gastouderopvang)

Host parents will take children from six weeks to age twelve and there can be a good deal of flexibility regarding hours of care provided. An agency is usually involved in mediating initially and is in charge of supervision of the host parent. The agency provides toys, a bed, and playpen and other relevant equipment for very young children.

Further Information

  • For more information on government childcare allowance in the Netherlands: Click here