The Netherlands has several different options for childcare while you are at work. Find out what options are available to you and your children.
Childcare allowance is an allowance that is meant to compensate part of the (substantial) costs of childcare. This income-based subsidy is available through either the Tax Authority or the municipality. You can calculate your eligibility and the height of your allowance using the Tax Authority subsidy calculator (website in Dutch). Read more about childcare benefits on the website of the Dutch Tax Authority (Belastingdienst) and on the website of the Dutch Government.
In order to be entitled to child care allowance, the day-care centre or childminder must registered with the National Registry Childcare ('Landelijk Register Kinderopvang' - LRK). You can search the LRK to help find childcare options in your area.
There is no childcare allowance for childcare by friends and family, unless they're official 'host parents'.
Preschool and Daycare (ages 0-4)
Before children reach primary school age, they could go to preschool or daycare, or a combination of the two. Daycare is meant for children from about 10 weeks up to 4 years old. Most daycares only offer full-day contracts for 1 to 5 fixed days per week. In most cities, preschool (voorschool) starts at age 2, and is offered for an average of 15 hours per week, spread out over three days.
Childcare centers (also called daycare centers or nurseries) are facilities where parents can place their children aged 0-4 years, up to the moment they are old enough to go to primary school. Your child can go to a day-care centre or a childminder can look after them during the day. In the Netherlands, childcare centers are run professionally and employ fully qualified childcare staff.
It is up to the parents how often and how long the children will go to the childcare facility. As the centers are aimed at parents who work or have other obligations, most of them only open on weekdays, usually from 7am to 7pm. However, some centers have more flexible hours and conditions.
Childcare centers usually have waiting lists. It is therefore recommended that parents sign up as soon as possible. It is never too early to register your child, even when you are still pregnant.
New legislation has turned all preschools into day-care centres from 1 January 2018 onwards. This means that parents of children who are currently in (what used to be) preschools, are now also eligible for childcare allowance.
'Host parent' childcare
Some parents may prefer host parent care (gastouderopvang). Host parents can care for children either in their homes or in the parents' home. Often, host parents can offer greater flexibility than daycare centers, including irregular hours.
You can find a host parent through host parent agencies. The agencies check the safety and hygiene at the locations where children are looked after. Host parents must also be registered in the National Childcare Register (Landelijk Register Kinderopvang).
Some host parent agencies in Nijmegen:
- KION gastouderbureau (website in Dutch)
- Kinop gastouderbureau (website in Dutch)
- ViaViela gastouderbureau (website in Dutch
Many Dutch parents use childminders or babysitters to periodically look after their children. There are no official organisations and childminders are usually found through informal channels.
Some suggestions on how to go about finding a childminder:
- Ask other parents, friends, coworkers, neighbours, the school or the daycare centre.
- Place or find an ad on a supermarket bulletin board.
- Advertise in a local newspaper like ‘De Brug’ that is delivered to every Nijmegen household.
- Consult childminder websites with portraits (often in Dutch) of possible childminders that include their language skills and references, such as:
It's important to ask for references, as this can give you a realistic impression of the childminder in question.
After-school care (ages 4-13)
For primary school children, there is a system of before- and after-school care (Buitenschoolse Opvang, BSO). This professional childcare can be convenient for parents whose work hours exceed the school hours. Children can use the BSO before school, during their lunch break, after school, or even during school holidays.
To give you an idea of school time: traditionally, primary schools open around 8:45 and end between 14:30 and 15:30. There is a lunch break around noon, when some children will go home while others enjoy their lunch in school. However, some primary schools offer a continuous programme that may start earlier and where lunch is an integral part of the school day.
Parents can drop their children off at a before-school location, and pick them up after work when the after-school care is finished. Often, primary schools will organise these services either themselves or in collaboration with an organisation.
The following organisations offer before- and after-school care for primary school children:
This is just a selection of organisations, we also recommend you ask your child’s primary school which organisations are near you or collaborate with the school.
Lunch-break care is available if the primary school your children attend does not have a continuous program and children go home during the lunch break. There is no childcare allowance for lunch-break care.