In the Netherlands, municipalities are responsible for ensuring that all childcare meets certain requirements regarding safety, cleanliness, insurance and the number of children per carer. There are several forms of childcare, ranging from day-care to pre-school groups, host parents, au pairs or nannies.
The provision of Dutch childcare is not always adequate to meet the demand; there are waiting lists for most forms of day-care. Childcare facilities are financed in various ways. They are either subsidized by municipalities (parents pay an income related contribution) or provided by employers, or fully paid by parents (private day-care).
The public day care centre (kinderdagverblijf) is the most popular form of child care in the Netherlands. These centres offer places for babies and children between the ages of six weeks and four years. The centres are usually open all day, five days a week, from around 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with various arrangements possible in terms of the numbers of days or half days that children spend in the centre each week. Waiting times following an application for child care can build up to 18 months. In addition to these public day-care centres, there are a number of private facilities in the main cities of the Netherlands which stay open around the clock, seven days a week and provide flexible child-care arrangements, but at significantly higher cost. Some day-care centres provide after-school and holiday care for older children, usually up to the age of 12. After-school and holiday care is also provided by the ‘after school care’ (buitenschoolseopvang , or naschoolse opvang) with fees similar to those charged by the day-care centres.
Another option is the pre-school group (peuterspeelzaal), for young children who do not require full-time care. The pre-school groups are usually open in the mornings and provide a range of activities for 2-4 year olds, who will usually attend the group once or twice a week. Typical costs for this type of facility range from €50 to €140 for two sessions per week.
It is also common to hire ‘Host parents’ (gastouders) for daycare in the Netherlands. The host parents will generally look after up to 3 children a day, sometimes including their own. Usually the care is provided in the host parent’s own house, some, however, provide care in the child’s family home. It is advisable to hire a host parent who is registered with the local host parent agency (gastouderbureau), which regulates charging policies and responsibilities. Typical charges are around €3 to €4 per hour.
Some parents choose to hire a person to live in their home and provide full-time care for their children. The options include a professional nanny, who has been specifically trained to take care of children, or an au pair, often a young girl from a different country, who wishes to gain experience living in the Netherlands and is responsible for looking after the children as well as doing light housework. Both nannies and au pairs can be hired through specialised agencies, who will have checked their references and credentials. Au pairs usually receive accommodation and food free of charge, and are given pocket money, while nannies generally cost at least €1000 per month.
Ask your employer if he can help you find suitable facilities. Sometimes employers have their own childcare facilities. Most universities, for example, have their own specific arrangements concerning child care..
Legislation regulates the payment of allowances for childcare facilities. Ask your employer about the company policy on contributions. An employer is not strictly obliged to offer such allowances, but many do so.
The Netherlands offer a child benefit (Kinderbijslag), a payment to a parent of any child under the age of 18. The government also provides benefits for handicapped children over the age of 18.
In order to qualify for Child benefit, your child does not necessarily have to be a Dutch citizen. It is required that your child is a legal, permanent resident of the Netherlands. Your child will receive this status when you register at the local municipal office.
If you work for a non-Dutch company or are self-employed, you will still qualify for a benefit as long as Dutch taxes and social benefits are being payed by yourself or by your employer on your behalf. The benefits can be applied for at your local Municipal office where you will be asked to submit the original birth certificate of your child, proof of residence, a passport, proof of school enrollment or training/apprenticeship. If you apply for a benefit for a handicapped child who is older than the age of 18, medical documentation will be required. The amount of the child benefit varies depending on how many children you have. Whether or not you are entitled to benefits can be determined with a quick visit to your local Municipal office.
See the attachment (top right) for adresses of child care centres in Leiden