Basics of the Dutch childcare system
The Dutch system recognises two primary forms of childcare; informal and formal care. Daycare centres, home daycares and after-school care are considered formal childcare. However, occasional babysitters and lunch-break care are deemed informal. This distinction is made as formal care must adhere to the rules and regulations of the official Dutch Childcare Act. Furthermore, parents using formal childcare are entitled to the childcare allowance.
In 2010, changes to the Dutch Childcare Ac,included the childcare allowance being reduced for private childminders and cancelled for live-in childminders. Private childminders now need to show proof of formal training and/or experience, and first aid training is mandatory.
The Ministry of OCW publishes new tables for childcare allowance annually.
From 1 January 2012 the Dutch Social Affairs Ministry will be imposing stricter rules on the granting of childcare allowances. To claim allowances parents must be in regular employment. Furthermore, retrospective applications for allowances will be reduced from a maximum of one year to one month, parents will not be able to claim allowances if they look after each others' children and parents will not be able to claim more than 230 hours per child, per month for all types of care.
The Dutch Childcare Act and the Childcare Allowance
The Dutch Childcare Act of 2005 was created in order to increase the participation of women in the work force, the accessibility of childcare and the competition between childcare providers, thereby lowering fees. The act provides for the financing of formal childcare and maintains quality and supervision standards for all childcare services.
According to the Dutch Childcare Act, parents, employers and the government must jointly bear the costs of formal childcare. The government does so by imposing a childcare levy on all employers.
The childcare allowance is provided on a per child basis, whereby an allowance is determined and provided for each child. The allowance is capped at a maximum hourly rate, which is adjusted annually.
The amount of your childcare allowance will depend on both your childcare costs and your family’s income situation. Under special circumstances, certain target groups (speciale doelgroepouders) such as single parent families, students etc. may receive an additional refund from the municipality in which they live. These circumstances are evaluated case-by-case.
The childcare bureau Blue Umbrella, which specialises in collecting the childcare allowance for internationals in the Netherlands, offers an allowance calculator on their website. To obtain a free estimate of the allowance amount you're entitled to, visit www.blueumbrella.nl/childcare-allowance/calculator.html.
Conditions of the Childcare Allowance
In order to be eligible for the childcare allowance, the childcare services that you choose must adhere to the rules and regulations of the Dutch Childcare Act. Daycare centres must be run by a professional organisation and home daycares will require the involvement of an accredited childcare bureau to officially certify their services with the authorities.
All parents in the Netherlands using formal childcare are therefore entitled to the childcare allowance if they are in a household where both partners are engaged in a gainful occupation or are studying, and if they have children aged 0 - 12.
Forms of childcare in the Netherlands
Daycare centres are professionally run and employ fully qualified childcare staff. They are usually open from 7:30 to 18:00 on weekdays and offer care for babies as young as 3 months to children up to 4 years. The ratio of children per staff member ranges from 1:4 to 1:8, depending on the age groups.
Home daycares are run by a self-employed childminder who legally can take care of a maximum of four children, either in his/her own home or in the house of the parents. If the home daycare is registered with a childcare bureau/agency (gastouderbureau), parents will be eligible to receive the childcare allowance.
There are several childcare bureaus/agencies in the Netherlands, who can assist parents and daycares in the registration process in order to receive their childcare allowance (see below for contact information). However, all agencies, with the exception of Blue Umbrella, provide support solely in Dutch and may not work with expatriates as the situation can be much more complicated on an administrative level.
Grandparents and childminders
Under the Childcare Act, grandparents who babysit on a regular basis can also be considered self-employed childminders and formal childcare providers. This means parents can also receive an allowance for this form of care. However, they will require, just like other home daycares, the involvement of a childcare bureau in order to officially qualify for the childcare allowance.
An au pair is typically a young woman from a foreign country who is hired to help look after the children of a host family. Au pairs are given room and board, are paid a monthly salary and typically are in search of a cultural experience while also serving as a childminder. Nannies are often older than au pairs, with several years of live-in childcare experience. Again, nannies will live in the home of the host family and receive a monthly salary.
Parents using nannies and au pairs may be eligible for the childcare allowance with the involvement of a childcare bureau in order to officially qualify and certify the childcare services.
Childcare providers (both daycare and home daycare) most often use the maximum hourly rate of the allowance as a guide to their fees. Self-employed childminders working out of their home normally charge around EUR 5 per child per hour. If they work at the parents’ home the fee usually varies between EUR 8 and EUR 12 per hour, irrespective of the number of children cared for.
Professional daycare centres normally charge higher rates than homecare providers. Daycare rates, although they can vary greatly, start around EUR 6.50 per child per hour.
How to collect the childcare allowance
If your children attend a professional daycare centre, you can apply for the allowance by visiting the Dutch tax website at www.toeslagen.nl. Unfortunately the information on this site is only offered in Dutch.
For services in English you can contact the childcare agency Blue Umbrella (see contact info below). If you are using a home daycare, nanny or grandparent for your childcare, you will need to make use of an accredited childcare bureau in order to officially register your child minder and apply for the allowance.
Childcare Bureau/Agencies (Gastouderbureau):
Blue Umbrella is the only English-language agency specialising in the childcare allowance for expatriates and internationals in the Netherlands.
Tel: (020) - 468 7560
A Dutch language Gastouderbureau
Tel: 0900 6766739 (20 ct/min.)
Childcare allowance: kinderopvangtoeslag
Daycare bureau: gastouderbureau
Daycare centre: crèche or kinderdagverblijf (for children 0 – 4 years)
Home daycare: gastouderopvang
Out-of-school care: buitenschoolse opvang (bso) (before and after school hours and during holidays) Naschoolse opvang (nso) after school hours and on the same weekday in the holiday when the child is cared for after school.
Lunch-break care: tussenschoolse opvang
Daycare centre listings
Ph: 020 398 6100
034 655 9500
Humanitas Kinderopvang Stichting
045 561 5353
070 356 0904
Stichting Kinderopvang Hilversum
035 683 4499
Au Pair Agencies
Note: inclusion in these listings is not a reference
Juno Au Pairs
010 471 5431
Au Pair Agency Mondial
070 365 1401
Au Pair Unlimited
036 532 7214
World Wide Au Pair & Nanny
020 411 6010
Visit our Kids channel for tips on where to have fun with your family in the Netherlands.
[Copyright Expatica + C.Geske/Blue Umbrella. Updated by Expatica May 2011]
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