Improvements to the quality of childcare

Next year day nurseries and playgroups will have to meet tougher standards that will improve the standard of care provided to babies and toddlers. Working parents will be able to claim a single childcare benefit for the care their child receives at a day nursery or playgroup. The Senate today approved two pieces of draft legislation submitted by the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Lodewijk Asscher: the Childcare (Innovation and Quality) Bill and the Day Nurseries and Playgroups (Harmonisation) Bill.

This means that, from 2018, everyone will have access to high-quality day care and playgroups. ‘It shouldn’t matter whether your parents are rich or poor,’ commented Mr Asscher. ‘All children deserve the opportunity to be able to play and learn together from an early age. It’s something children enjoy and it gets them off to a good start at primary school.’

Under the new stricter rules, the same quality requirements will apply to both day nurseries and playgroups, raising the standard of care across the board. This will remove the current differences in care for toddlers by the two types of provider.

The child-staff ratio for baby care will be lowered to one carer per three children. Currently, the ratio is one carer to four children.

There will also be a greater focus on child development. All children will be assigned a mentor. All day nursery and playgroup staff must be fluent in Dutch and meet minimum language proficiency standards.

The new legislation can count on broad support. The details were set out in the 2016 Agreement on Innovation and Quality in Childcare that Mr Asscher reached with the association which represents the childcare sector, the employers' association for the social and welfare services, youth care and childcare sectors, the organisation representing the interests of parents using childcare (BOINK) and the trade unions FNV and CNV.

The new legislation is due to enter into force on 1 January 2018.