Home Living in the Netherlands Family & Pets International day care in the Netherlands
Last update on February 03, 2021

Expat parents in the Netherlands can register pre-school age children with an international daycare center where they can benefit from early learning in a multicultural environment.

With many parents in the Netherlands working full- or part-time, childcare is a necessity. International daycare centers give expats the chance to place their children in a multicultural setting.

Expatica explains what you can expect from international daycare centers in the Netherlands, as well as how to apply.

International daycare centers in the Netherlands

Pre-school childcare is popular in the Netherlands, with the Dutch topping EU tables in terms of the percentage of children accessing childcare. Daycare centers (kinderdagverblijf) are one of the most common forms of childcare. These offer working parents professional care as well as learning for children aged 0-4 years.

Daycare in the Netherlands is available at the centers for up to 10 hours per day (usually 0800-1800 hours), five days per week. Children play and learn in a safe environment. They usually receive a hot meal, drinks, and snacks.

For expat residents, there is also the option of international daycare in the Netherlands. These centers have English-speaking and multilingual staff, run multicultural activities, and also offer places to children of residents from all nationalities.

What does daycare in the Netherlands consist of?

Daycare in the Netherlands is a healthy mix of fun, learning, and interaction. The emphasis is on helping the child develop in a way that doesn’t disrupt their development at home. Programs offered by international daycare centers in the Netherlands will vary between institutions, but will usually consist of:

  • Creative activities where children engage in art, music, dancing, etc.
  • Indoor and outdoor play
  • Language development through reading and communication
  • Social development through interaction in a diverse, multicultural environment
  • Provision of healthy meals and snacks for nutritional development
Baby playing with mum

Development of language skills at international daycare centers

Although some international daycare centers in the Netherlands provide only English-speaking services, others offer bilingual classes in Dutch and English. There are a few schools, that offer a fully bilingual program.

Learning in both languages means that children of English-speaking residents that speak little or no Dutch can develop their language skills.

Many offer activities in both Dutch and English. Dutch teachers speak only Dutch and English teachers speak only English. Children also learn songs in the native languages of international pupils.

The approach is that children have a natural capacity to learn multiple languages from birth. It’s all about getting children to interact with one another. Some use songs and sign language to enhance communication.

How children prepare for school years

International childcare in the Netherlands doesn’t provide a formal education for pre-school age children. However, there is still a strong emphasis on preparation for primary school at the age of four. Children’s social and creative development takes place alongside monitoring to make sure that they are ready for the transition to school.

baby playing

How to apply for a place at a daycare center

Due to the popularity of childcare in the Netherlands, there can be long waiting lists at international daycare centers. Apply for a place as early as possible. Most centers will offer tours for parents so they can visit the site before making a decision, but many also accept online applications, which is very practical if you haven’t arrived in the country yet.

You must provide personal details about yourself and your child, including languages spoken, along with details of which days you wish your child to attend. If there are no spots available, children go on a waiting list until a suitable place opens up.

Costs of international daycare in the Netherlands

Daycare fees in the Netherlands vary. They may be payable at hourly or daily rates. The good news is that a large proportion of costs can usually be subsidized through childcare allowance – including for expats if they have residency in the Netherlands.

The exact amount of childcare allowance you can claim depends on factors such as income, hours worked, number of children receiving childcare, hours in childcare, and the daycare’s fees. Parents can claim a maximum of 230 hours per month per child. Between 33-94% of a set hourly rate of €7.45 can be claimed. More information are available on the Dutch Tax Administration website. You can also calculate your entitlement using a benefits calculator (in Dutch).