We at Mothers in Arts follow with interest the developments around child care law in The Netherlands. This is one of the most important areas where we find things need to improve at a policy level and one that is a strong pillar of our Residency model.
In this quick update we want to focus on developments specially relevant with the General Election just around the corner (March 15, 2017).
Upcoming General Election
The result of this vote defines the composition of the "Tweede Kamer" (Lower House, with 150 seats, one of the two institutions that make up the Dutch Parliament), and the election of the Dutch Prime Minister. The "Tweede Kamer" is considered the most important of the 2 bodies in Parliament with the freedom to propose or amend policy in the Netherlands.
Day care, the current situation
Currently in the Netherlands, children don't have the guaranteed access to child care. It remains a choice, with some partial subsidised support (called Kinderopvangtoeslag) exclusive to working parents only and based on the amount of hours they work.
One of the many casualties of austerity measures taken in previous years, access to child care remains to this day somewhat of a privilege and an approximate number of 37,500 children in the Netherlands don't go to child care.
On average day care costs €6,82 per hour or €1091,2 per month in 20151 while most have only partial access, attending only some days of the week (3,25 days per week average in 20142). The remaining days have to be covered by extended family or by one of the parents, almost always the mother who usually stops working completely or partially. (Closer look at this in our previous article : http://mothersinarts.com/news/a-practical-nonviolent-act-of-resistance-part-one)
In September last year though, Rutter's Cabinet took a decision to allocate 60 million euros so that all children between the ages of 2,5 and 4 years old get the guaranteed right to go to the "kinderopvang" (Child care) for at least 2 days a week3.
The advice from the SER
In January this year the news 4 covered the advice given by the "Sociaal Economische Raad" (Social-Economic council, acronym SER) where the organization advised the government to step up its commitment to child care by extending the guaranteed right from 2 to 4 days a week.
We want to stress here that we agree with the advice from SER and that we find access to affordable/free child care to be the first step to prevent segregation, inequality and social integration problems for children, specially those with a "taalachterstand" (language "difficulty", read : Children of immigrants whose first language at home is not Dutch).
The cost of child care (together with Parenthood leave) is also an important factor that determines whether working mothers can return to the workplace after birth, the earning power of a woman after she becomes a mother, the kinds of work mothers will seek or whether they postpone having children until a later age -or entirely- in favour of career advancement.
Minister Lodewijk Asscher rejects the advice from SER
More recently, it has been made public that the minister of Social Affairs and Employment (Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid) Lodewijk Asscher, from the PVdA, has decided not to follow the advice from SER quoting that the plan already announced by the government (2 days child care ages 2,5 - 4) "... would already be a fantastic step... "5
Most parties of the Netherlands agree on the importance of providing access to child care in the Netherlands. Only a few make no mention of the topic whatsoever, with the most notorious example being the PVV (Partij van de Vrijheid, Party of Freedom) of Geert Wilders who leads the polls according to various sources.
We highly recommend the 2 following resources with information about what the political parties of the Netherlands are proposing if elected in the March election:
Magazine "Kinderopvang totaal" has a very well researched article with the point of view of different parties in regards to child care. You can find here (Dutch) : https://www.kinderopvangtotaal.nl/management/actueel/2016/11/politieke-partijen-over-de-kinderopvang/
And in the style of the "Stemwijzer" (Vote advisor) we also recommend "Stemwijzerouders" : https://stemwijsouders.nl/welkom
For Mothers in Arts,
Juan Carlos Ospina Gonzalez
1 Facts and figures, Kinderopvang.nl
2 Factsheet Kinderopvang 2016
3 RTL News, Kabinet trekt 60 miljoen uit: alle peuters naar opvang
4 RTL News, Alle kinderen vanaf 2 naar opvang, en stop het jojobeleid
5 Volkskrant, Asscher neemt SER-advies kinderopvang niet over