Many years of waiting for a parking place is not just a Randstad problem | NOW

Parents wait for years for a place in childcare. This does not only occur in the Randstad, but everywhere in the Netherlands. And the waiting lists are only getting longer.

The waiting time for a place at an outdoor school (BSO) in Utrecht is currently almost four years, according to the Interest Organization for Parents in Childcare (BOinK). This problem also occurs in provinces such as Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel and North Brabant due to a lack of staff.

“Many employees in training find the early and late shifts (before and after school) annoying,” says BOinK chairman Gjalt Jellesma. “That’s why they choose better-paid work, for example as a classroom assistant.” Due to the aging population, fewer people are available to work in childcare.

Another reason for the long waiting lists, according to Jellesma, is that so many people have never worked in the Netherlands before. “There are many parents who have to lose their children somewhere.”

He talks to parents who want to work more, but don’t because there is no care for their children. “In Eindhoven and Tilburg, people even had to quit their jobs because they were not given shelter.”

Who needs childcare the most?

The Børnepasningsafdelingsorganisation (BK) confirms that the long waiting lists for a place in the childcare scheme also occur outside the Randstaden and says that this problem is only getting worse. “Childcare has become a scarce commodity because of the lack of staff,” she says.

Seven thousand people are already missing according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. This concerns education for children aged four to twelve and day care for children aged zero to four.

In 2025, the government wants childcare to be almost free, in order to get more people into work. Another 50,000 people are needed to make this possible.

BK director Emmeline Bijlsma expects that in the most extreme case 21,000 new employees can be recruited, but then there is still a shortfall of 29,000 employees. And that’s on top of the current shortage. “It’s not fun for anyone, but then we have to ask ourselves which families are most in need of childcare,” she says.

According to her, free childcare should be more accessible to children growing up in a vulnerable position. “Or, for example, children of parents who work in care professions, because there is already a major staff shortage there.” In this way, the pressure on the existing staff can be reduced.

Bijlsma also sees a possible solution in longer parental leave. This must apply to both fathers and mothers, in order to keep the employment rate the same for both groups. “If children only go into childcare at a later age, it would make a huge difference in the deployment of staff. Most people are needed for daycare for babies.”

Group assistance and sending of recipients and refugees

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) has other thoughts about that. Minister Karien van Gennip prescribed measures in a letter to parliament on 5 September to tackle the childcare shortage. They want to do this by retaining the current staff, attracting new employees and encouraging more working hours.

For example, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment wants the childcare staff’s administrative and domestic tasks to be taken over by group help to the greatest extent possible. These are mainly people who are not pedagogically trained. This gives more time for the educational staff to focus fully on the children.

The ministry is also considering the deportation of status holders and Ukrainian refugees who do not yet speak the Dutch language. They can combine language learning with childcare work.

Furthermore, more people are put into work during the training, and the ministry sees combination jobs as a solution. Day care employees can then also work in e.g. youth care.

System where childcare becomes possible for everyone

Even so, it is still important to be open to different types of measures to keep childcare running, believes Bijlsma. “We want to move to a system where everyone can use childcare. But we have to do this in very careful steps to make that possible. And it will take some time.”

The letter to Parliament will be considered in the House of Representatives on 16 November.

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