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 Dutch citizens, and must abide by the same rules. Everybody who has children and legally works and lives in the Netherlands 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 (child support). How much kinderbijslag you receive depends on how many children you have, as well as their ages. Once you register your kids with your municipality – which is compulsory within three working days after the birth –, you will be contacted by the Sociale Verzekeringbank (SVB) within two weeks. You can then apply for kinderbijslag online. The amount is €248 per quarter per child up to 5 years. For children aged 6-11, the benefit rises to €302 and for ages 12-17 to €356. 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 arranged by the SVB. The Tax Office (Belastingdienst) decides if you are eligible to receive these benefits, depending among other things on your total household income. Limits also apply for the total household capital that you own. The maximum amount of kgb for a two-parent family is €1653 per year for one child, €3185 for two children, €4717 for three children and €6429 for four children; these amounts decrease if you have a higher income. Single parents can receive up to €3848 extra per year. The payment is given as an advance based on your estimate of your income, and the final amount will be calculated once you have submitted your tax report for the year. This means you may have to pay back some of the money if you earned more than you estimated. You can calculate the amount you will receive and apply for this budget through the Belastingdienst Toeslagen (benefits) website: Toeslagen
  3. Kinderopvangtoeslag (childcare allowance): if your child goes to a registered daycare, childminder (gastouder) or after-school club (buitenschoolse opvang, bso), you may be entitled to an allowance to pay for the costs. Depending on your income, the number of children, the number of hours that you work, and the type of childcare you choose, you can be reimbursed for 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 €8,97 per hour. This allowance is also paid as an advance, so be aware you may have to pay back some of it later. You can apply for this budget through the Belastingdienst Toeslagen website: Toeslagen

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

If you wish to hire a babysitter, you can find a vetted babysitter at agencies, such as Nanny Nina, Charly Cares or Oppasland; at these sites, you have to pay a monthly subscription to use their services. The usual rate for registered babysitters aged 23 or over is €8-€12 an hour. There are no regulations for informal babysitters, so parents can look elsewhere for cheaper options, such as a neighbour looking to make some money. Around €5-7 an hour is expected for a babysitter in his/her teens, a bit more for older sitters. Always make sure you choose a babysitter you trust, check their references and meet the babysitter at least once before you leave your child in their care.