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Fewer children attending childcare in the Netherlands20 February 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The number of children attending childcare centres in the Netherlands has dropped for the second year in a row, reports Dutch state statistics bureau CBS.
At the end of 2011, there were 322.000 children (from a few months to four years of age) in a day care centre in the Netherlands; at the end of 2013, that had dropped by 11 per cent, to 284.000.
While the numbers of children in day care centres grew significantly between 2008 and 2011, the amounts started dropping off from 2012.
Fewer births in the Netherlands
According to CBS, that is due in part to the fact that fewer people in the Netherlands were having children over the last few years, with 5.000 fewer children born in 2012 than in 2011, a decline than began in 2010.
"You always see that you have fewer births in crisis years," said a spokeswoman from CBS. "That explains roughly half of the decline."
Another factor in the decline was higher unemployment due to the crisis.
Higher childcare costs
The decline in the birth rate does not, however, account for the changes in the proportion of children in day care: that has dropped from 44 per cent in 2011 to 39 per cent in 2013.
CBS attributes this to the changes made to the childcare allowance, which has contributed to the rising costs of childcare in the Netherlands.
In 2008, recipients of the childcare allowance (kinderopvangtoeslag) had on average 81 per cent of their expenses reimbursed by the allowance.
In 2013, this was only 63 per cent. Parents’ costs therefore almost doubled.
Fewer childcare centres
The number of childcare centres also decreased for the first time in 2013, with more than 50 fewer centres at the end of 2013 than in 2012.
That reflects the large number of childcare centres that were declaring bankruptcy over the last year, possibly in response to the boom that began a few years ago.
From 2009 to 2012, there were 2.400 childcare centres in the Netherlands; in 2013 there were 6.200.
This meant that on average parents had a choice of 15 childcare centres within a distance of three kilometres from their home. The average distance to the nearest centre was about 900 metres.