Dutch childcare sector suffers as parents seek alternatives

Dutch childcare sector suffers as parents seek alternatives

Though childcare and day care in the Netherlands is sometimes bemoaned as being  increasingly expensive, it seems there is not enough money going into the sector. As a result, a record number of businesses in the childcare industry are struggling or suffering bankruptcy.

The interlinked causes behind the current difficulties in the childcare business appear to be government cuts, and the growing number of parents who have sought alternative childcare plans in the years following the financial crisis.

Closures and bankruptcy in childcare sector

The consequences of the financial crisis - namely government cuts and reduced family income - are causing notable problems for the Netherlands’ childcare sector.

According to a report by a childcare industry organisation - de Brancheorganisatie Kinderopvang - 2013 saw a record number of 98 childcare businesses collapse. In the first half of 2014 alone, 36 businesses went bankrupt, including industry giant Estro.

The report from the Brancheorganisatie Kinderopvang examined the financial situations of 285 of the Netherlands’ 3.200 institutions and the findings were not positive, with over half struggling to make a profit.

Government cuts

A large part of the problem has been the reduction in government spending and subsidies in the childcare sector over recent years.

A recent report from the government’s social policy advisor, Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP), revealed that between 2011 and 2013 the number of subsidised crèche places dropped from 120.000 to 94.000.

Parents look elsewhere for childcare

As a result of the financial pressures of recent years, parents are making alternative childcare plans. It is increasingly common for children to be cared for by grandparents, family or friends.

More parents in the Netherlands are also working fewer days to care for their kids, or are in temporary or long-term unemployment allowing them to care for their children themselves.

According to the SCP’s report, 55 per cent of children aged zero to three in the Netherlands are currently in childcare, compared to 72 per cent in 2008. As a result, 35 per cent of full-time (complete working week) places are not being filled with children.

The most common factor cited by parents for reduced usage of childcare facilities was cost, followed by unemployment or part-time employment.

Sources: Volkskrant, SCP, NRC Q

Check out our list of expat-friendly childcare & daycare options in the Netherlands.

Zoe Neilson


Zoe Neilson

Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has also lived in Strasbourg, London, Sydney and Leeds, and has now been based...

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