What if the shortage of staff in the daycare becomes so acute that we have to choose which children are still available in the childcare? It sounds like a direct doomsday scenario. Still, this could become a reality if the tide doesn’t turn. “Children who grow up in a vulnerable position benefit most from care. He would be the very first to give you a place in childcare,’ says BK director Emmeline Bijlsma on NPO Radio 1.
According to the latest figures (June, CBS), the sector is now short of around 7,000 employees. The shortage of employees is expected to grow to 50,000 by 2031. The expected extreme growth is largely due to the government’s plans to reimburse 96 percent of childcare per 1 January 2025. The expectation is that demand for childcare will increase hugely as a result and the fear is that the sector, particularly given the current shortage, will not be able to meet that demand.
Childcare is becoming a scarce commodity
“If you think about how many parents are already suffering from a lack of 7,000 employees, you can see what happens if we lack 50,000 people”, says Bijlsma in an interview on the NPO Radio 1 program Dit is de Dag . “Childcare is becoming a scarce commodity. You have to think about how we should divide it up as smartly as possible.’ It requires thinking in terms of solutions, says Bijlsma. The most important thing, she said, was to delay the free childcare plan until a time when it is more feasible. “But it’s in the coalition agreement, so assuming it’s implemented, we’re going to have to look within the huge gaps there are if we can still deliver childcare where it matters most.”
‘Children who grow up in a vulnerable position actually benefit the most from childcare,’ says Bijlsma. “He would be the very first to give you a spot in day care.” Bijlsma means, among other things, children with a social medical indication (SMI). “And you could expand it a bit.”
Increase the part-time factor
Bijlsma also talks about the plans to get employees to work more in childcare together with the foundation Het Potentieel Pakken. ‘We reckoned that it would give us a maximum of 9,000 extra employees.’
If Bijlsma has it’s way, the government will for the time being remove the plans for free childcare from the coalition agreement. “We think the government’s objective is wonderful. We also want childcare to become more accessible, also for children of parents who do not work. But do it step by step. Then we need about ten years, maybe fifteen. We have to go through a huge aging bubble, and then we’ll return to more normal waters, and then maybe we can find enough employees.’
Deportation of status holders and Ukrainian refugees
Bijlsma thinks it is a good plan that status holders and Ukrainian refugees are used in childcare. “We see that there is a huge number of people in the Netherlands who are qualified in a pedagogical or didactic profession in their country of origin and who cannot work in the Netherlands because they do not yet have a full command of the language. And that is very important in childcare. We would like these people to be able to work in supported positions in childcare and to be able to progress in training to be able to work in childcare as well. Support would relieve current employees. The government has to open the purse strings for that, because if employers pay it out of their own pockets, childcare rates will have to go up, and that would make childcare too expensive.’