Childcare in the Netherlands

Childcare in the Netherlands

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Here's a brief guide to the Dutch childcare system, including an introduction to child benefit and childcare allowance in the Netherlands.

It is never too early to register your child for daycare, for instance, when you are pregnant. Governmental policy (in English) can be found on www.government.nl or on www.rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch). To help you decide on which childcare option suits your time needs and budget, read more in FAQs about childcare and child allowances in the Netherlands, or read Expatica's guide to Dutch education for a wider scope.

Childcare options in the Netherlands

Kinderdagverblijf: Public daycare for children aged six weeks to four years old. Centres are generally open from 8am to 6–8pm. Urban areas have a shortage so expect long waiting lists.

Private daycare: In large cities, there are private facilities offering flexible options up to 24-hour care, which are more expensive, plus international nurseries and pre-school establishments.

Pre-school/playgroups (peuterspeelzalen): Activities and play for two to four year olds. This is often more social rather than proper daycare but — if you can get a place — it can be sufficient if you intend to work part-time.

Employers: Some employers have their own daycare arrangements or local daycare places, which can be cheaper.

After-school care: Some daycare centres provide this for children up to 12, but it is also provided by naschoolse opvang and buitenschoolse opvang (BSO) establishments.

Dutch child benefit

Parents living or working in the Netherlands with children under 18 are entitled to the kinderbijslag, a quarterly contribution to the cost of raising children from the Sociale Verzerkerings Bank (SVB). The amount depends on age, special needs etc. but is not income-related. It can be paid into a bank account in some foreign countries (but this will take longer). Find information in seven languages and a list of local offices at www.svb.nl.

Childcare allowance in the Netherlands

Parents working (or studying) in the Netherlands are entitled to the childcare allowance (kinderopvangtoeslag) for children under 12. This is a contribution to the cost of childcare, whether for a childcare centre, afterschool care or a private childminder (gastouder). The allowance can reduce childcare costs up to a maximum of 90 percent, depending on income and number of children. Contact the tax office for details: www.svb.nl. You can also read more information on childcare benefits in the Netherlands.

Many changes in recent years have affected the amount and granting of childcare allowance. Since 2013, the allowance amount has been dependent on a household’s (joint) income, after the Government repealed the 33.3 percent employer’s contribution rate (werkgeversbijdrage). Increased budget allocation of EUR 160 million for childcare in 2015 has seen a reinstatement of childcare allowance for high-income households, capped at a certain percent of costs for households with incomes over a set amount. Childcare allowance is also capped to a set of maximum hourly rates, depending on the type of care. Read more on the government site www.government.nl or calculate your benefits on the tax office site.

Changes to the Dutch Childcare Act in 2010 included a reduction in childcare allowance for private childminders and no allowance for live-in childminders. Private childminders need to be registered, show proof of formal training, and first-aid training is mandatory. As of 2012, parents must also be in regular employment to claim allowances. In 2015 the maximum hourly rate on which childcare benefit was based was EUR 6.84 for day nurseries, EUR 6.38 for out-of-school care, and EUR 5.48 for childcare by registered childminders.

Parents cannot claim allowances if they look after each other’s children or relatives provide care, and parents cannot claim more than 230 hours maximum per child, per month for all types of care. There is a cap on the maximum hours parents can declare, which is linked to the number of hours worked by the parent who works the lowest contracted number of hours.

In the event of sickness, holiday, parental leave, extra training or part-time unemployment benefit, the number or hours ‘worked’ remains unchanged, as does the number of hours of childcare allowance granted. The same rules apply for both independent entrepreneurs and those employed by an organisation.

If a parent amends the number of childcare hours they receive, however, they must pass the information to the Tax Office (belastingdienst) within four weeks, or incur a fine.

Hiring an au pair in the Netherlands

Bringing an au pair to the Netherlands is restricted. One of the key rules is that the au pair cannot have previously worked for your family abroad. Only a recognised au pair agency can submit a permit application on behalf of an au pair.

An au pair can stay in the Netherlands for one year for the purpose of cultural exchange and is not allowed to work outside the agreed au pair duties. The IND website has a section for au pairs who wish to come to the Netherlands, as well as conditions for what an au pair is allowed to do.

Below are some general facts for hiring an au pair; consult the IND website for more details.

  • the au pair must be over 18 and under 31;
  • they can only do light domestic duties to assist the host family in exchange for bed and board;
  • they can work a maximum 8 hours per day, 30 hours per week;
  • they must have two days off per week;
  • they must have a TB test, if necessary;
  • they can't have had any previous Dutch residence permit for exchange purposes.


To hire an au pair, the sponsor must have sufficient income to support the family and an au pair, the au pair must be registered at the same address, and they must agree to a daily schedule for the au pair in writing.

Top tips for families

There are many playgrounds scattered about but the Dutch transport system makes it easy to explore farther, and children travel free on certain passes. There are also abundant cycling facilities for family outings, or you might consider a bakfiet, the Dutch cargo bike.

For ideas, Dutch publisher J/M (www.jmouders.nl) covers a range of activities and age groups. You can search for ‘kids gids’ (kids guides) covering your area, or find children’s activities on 'Out with Children' at www.uitkrant.nl. You can also check for things to do at www.amsterdam-mamas.nl.

Get out and about:

  • Fun for free – visit a children’s farm or kinderboerderij. These city farms often have educational and recreational activities during the week.
  • Cultural fun – Dutch museums often have audio guides for kids available in several languages.
  • Hit the beach – the Netherlands has 451km of (windy!) coastline accessible by car, bike, boat and public transport.
  • Dutch theme parks – De Efteling is a huge park offering (scary/exciting) rides for older kids and a Disney-esque experience with folkloric touches for younger ones.
  • Top scoff – who could resist poffertjes? Tiny puffed up pancakes served with butter and tons of powdered sugar.

 

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Updated 2016.

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3 Comments To This Article

  • Hannah posted:

    on 30th March 2016, 13:40:05 - Reply

    Hello! I also experienced difficulty finding out about childcare when I first arrived. There are so many websites and different ways to find a babysitter or nanny. For me Oppas Madelief was very helpful. I live in Rotterdam, but I believe they also have babysitters in Amsterdam and Utrecht. The girls are very reliable and it is not expensive. You pay directly to the babysitter, in my previous experiences I always had to pay the agency. Perhaps this is why the hour fee is relatively low compared to what I was used to. I hope this helps!
  • Marcus posted:

    on 28th March 2015, 09:21:06 - Reply

    It is really helpful for the new parents and especially new mother should go through it. We know how much tough to handle a baby especially a new one after 3 months of birth he or she will create many problems that we parent are unable to handle. Therefore we need expert advice to take better care of our baby. Apart from this we used to follow several blogs, online information and many news articles on baby care. Here also we have found a beneficial article on child care I hope apart from Dutch people others are also taking some good lesson from here.

  • Panoraki posted:

    on 12th January 2015, 07:56:39 - Reply

    Hello! We are expats in Netherlands. We moved here 6 months ago. We have 18 months old daughter. We are from different nationalities and speak different languages to our child (everyone speaks his mother language) and between us we speak mostly in English but she is doing quite well till now! It is time to choose DayCare for her and we decided - a gastouder (childminder) because by our opinion and our neighbour advice the kids get used to be away from the parents easily in a home atmosphere with small group of other kids, especially with her new language (4th). We red here the advice about the first Day at school but I think they work for older kids and toddlers. That is why I would like to ask the other parents expats in NL: What is your opinion about "Gastouders" and what is your experience with your kids?