Looking after the little ones

Childcare in the Netherlands is considered a shared responsibility between parents, schools, employers and the government. The parents raise their children, schools and care centers are responsible for the children entrusted to them when the parents are working and employers pay a childcare contribution imposed by the government to pay for the whole system. Expats working for a Dutch company in the Netherlands enjoy the same rights to childcare as any other Dutch person, and must abide by the same rules. Everybody who has children and legally works and lives in Holland is eligible for three kinds of child benefits.

1. Kinderbijslag

If you have children under 18, including adopted and foster children or stepchildren you raise as your own, you will receive kinderbijslag. How much kinderbijslag you receive depends on how many children you have as well as how their ages. Once you register your kids with your municipal office – which is compulsory within three working days after the birth -, you will be contacted by the Sociale Verzekeringbank (Social Security Office, SVB) within two weeks. You can then apply for kinderbijslag by email or online. The amount is fixed at € 202 per quarter per child. For children aged 6-11, the benefit rises to € 245 and between ages 12-18 to € 288. For children with disabilities, the benefit can double.

2. Kindgebonden budget (child-related budget, kgb)

Low- to middle-income families can apply for additional benefits, also granted by the SVB and paid for by the government. The Tax Office decides if you are eligible to receive these benefits, depending among other things on your total household income. Those making less than € 41.000 a year for a single parent or € 83.400 as a couple can apply. The maximum kgb amount for a two-parent family is € 1.105 per year for one child, € 2.050 for two children, € 2.335 for three and € 295 for every extra child. For a single parent, the maximum amount is € 3.101 per child.

3. Kinderopvangtoeslag (childcare allowance)

If your child goes to a registered daycare or after-school club (BSO), you may be entitled to an allowance to pay for the costs. Depending on your income, the number of children and the type of childcare you choose, you can be reimbursed for a minimum of one third up to a maximum of 96% of the total cost. The maximum allowance is 230 hours of childcare per month and the maximum reimbursement is € 8,02 per hour.

There are many kinds of childcare options on offer in the Netherlands, including flexible daycare, after-school club, babysitting, playgroups, nurseries, child-minding services and pre-schools. High standards and government regulations apply to all caretakers, who must be officially registered. In some provinces and in all large cities, you can find daycare and playgroups for English speakers or speakers of other languages. As some care centers have long waiting lists, parents may have to wait a few months before they can drop off their little one. It is recommended to check waiting lists while you are still pregnant, in order to ensure a place is available once you need it.

If you wish to hire a babysitter, most are registered at agencies called ‘oppascentrales’, which can be found in the yellow pages or online at pages like Kinderopvangkaart (Dutch) or Nomad Parents (English). The usual rate for registered babysitters is € 8-€ 12 an hour. However, as regulations for babysitting are not as strict as for official care, parents can look elsewhere for cheaper options (around €5 an hour is expected for a babysitter in his/her teens). Always make sure you choose a babysitter that you trust, check their references and meet the babysitter at least once before you leave your child to their care.