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If you intend to start a childcare organisation (nursery, daycare or after school care facility) in the Netherlands, you must observe various government rules and regulations. You can use this checklist to quickly determine which obligations you must fulfil. This checklist serves merely as a guideline. Several steps can be carried out at the same time. Consult your local municipality regarding the order of the steps.
Higher quality demands on childcare facilities in 2019 and 2023
The demands on childcare facility childcare are becoming stricter in the Netherlands. A first set of extra measures came into force on 1 January 2019, and more will follow in 2023. The main changes are set out in a government document (in Dutch).
1. Check whether you fulfil the conditions for staying in the Netherlands
Entrepreneurs who intend to stay in the Netherlands must fulfil a number of conditions. If you are from outside the European Economic Area, you may require a residence permit. Our interactive tool Coming to the Netherlands as an entrepreneur can help you find out quickly if this is true for you, and tell you what other obligations you have to fulfil.
If you plan to start doing business in the Netherlands, you will also need to have or apply for a business bank account (IBAN). The Dutch Banking Association has created a Quick Scan to help you find out if you are eligible. Read how it works.
2. Choose the right location for your childcare centre
Have you found a suitable location? Make sure it is in line with your municipality’s zoning plan. And check which permits you will need. Is your location not suitable for childcare, according to the zoning plan? You can apply for an all-in-one permit for physical aspects to build, alter or renovate a building. Once you have the permit, you can apply to the municipality to change the zoning plan. Do your plans involve demolishing an existing building? Then notify your municipality of your intentions. Is your building listed? Then you may not be allowed to alter or demolish it, and strict rules will apply to any renovation work you want to carry out.
3. Comply with furnishings and fittings requirements
You must provide enough suitably furnished rooms for play and rest. These rooms must be geared to the number of children and their age.
4. Take fire safety requirements for your business premises into account
Take sufficient measures to ensure fire safety in your childcare centre. If you operate a childcare centre for more than ten children under the age of 12, you need an All-in-one Permit for Physical Aspects (Omgevingsvergunning).
5. Draw up an HACCP plan or a hygiene code
If you prepare food and drink, you must have an HACCP food safety plan. You can also choose to comply with a certified hygiene code, e.g. the code of the sector organisation for childcare (in Dutch). If you work with either of these methods, you’ll comply with the legal requirements.
6. Hire qualified staff
Your staff must satisfy a number of professional requirements. The professional qualifications differ depending on the job. The website Kinderopvang Werkt (in Dutch) gives extensive information on the different qualifications. As the owner of the childcare centre, you don’t need a degree or certificate, but you must ensure responsible childcare.The collective labour agreement for childcare (cao Kinderopvang, in Dutch) lays down the labour agreements for the entire childcare sector.
7. Make sure the groups are not too big and you have enough allocated group spaces
Depending on whether you offer childcare to 0-4 year olds or 4-12 year olds, there are different requirements for group size and the number of group spaces that can be used. The size of the group in turn helps to determine the care professional – child ratio. If you offer care to 0-4 year olds, the spaces used must always be the same ones (max 2).
8. Calculate the professional childcarer – child ratio (bkr)
You can use the professional childcarer – child ratio calculator (rekentool beroepskracht-kindratio, in Dutch) to determine how many care professionals you need for the number of children per age group. The calculation method has been revised in 2019, to better suit the needs of the childrens’ development, for instance babies.
Allowed deviation from the professional – child ratioThe three-hour rule states that you are allowed to deviate from the professional childcarer – child ratio for three hours a day, on the condition that the childcare centre is opened for 10 straight hours. The professional childcarer – child ratio must never be less than 50% of the prescribed number of care professionals.
9. Make sure there are always enough employees with a first aid certificate for children present
There must always be at least one adult present during opening hours in possession of a first aid certificate for children. Make sure enough of your employees have such a certificate.
10. Allocate mentors
Appoint a mentor to every child. The mentor is a member of your pedagogical staff, who monitors the child’s development and who is the contact person for the parents.
11. Provide a maximum number of familiar faces
In childcare, you are allowed to expose the children to a maximum number of familiar faces. This is called the familiar-face criterion. Make sure you know how many familiar faces you are allowed per child in your facility.
12. Apply for a certificate of good conduct for legal entities
To set up a childcare centre, you need a certificate of good conduct for legal entities (VoGrp). You need this to demonstrate the integrity of your enterprise and employees in key positions.
13. Apply for a certificate of good conduct for individuals
All employees of the childcare centre must be in possession of a certificate of good conduct for individuals (VoGnp).
14. Enroll in the childcare staff register
Everyone working or living in a location that offers childcare must register in the childcare staff register of the Education Consolidation Department. These persons will be screened continuously.
15. Register with the Dutch Commercial Register and Tax Administration
You must register your business in the Commercial Register (Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVK). The registration fee is €50.-. Whether or not you also have to register with the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration depends on the legal structure you have chosen. Limited companies and foundations do have to register separately.
16. Draw up a pedagogical policy plan
In your pedagogical policy plan, you outline your vision for the childcare you want to offer. The plan must be up-to-date. Adapt the plan if either the circumstances in your childcare facility, or your views on topics in the pedagogical policy plan change.
17. Employ a pedagogic professional or coach
Every childcare organisation needs to employ at least one pedagogic professional, a pedagogic coach or a combination of both. The pedagogic professional / coach coaches the childcare professionals in their daily practice. The pedagogic professional also develops the pedagogical policy. You can find out the requirements for this pedagogic professional or coach on the (Dutch) Kinderopvang werkt! website.
18. Draw up a health and safety policy
Make sure you have an up-to-date health and safety policy, drawn up, implemented and evaluated by all parties concerned. Main requirements for this include strategies for dealing with some of the major risks for children’s health and safety, describing the four-eyes principle, and methods used to reduce the risk of transgressive behaviour.
19. Conduct a health and safety risk inventory
Before submitting an application for your facility to be registered in the National Childcare Register (LRK), you must conduct a health and safety risk inventory. For this purpose, you are advised to use the Risk Monitor (in Dutch). You then conduct this risk inventory every year.
20. Register your centre in the National Childcare Register
At least 10 weeks before the start of your childcare centre, you must apply for registration in the National Childcare Register (LRK) with the municipal authorities. If you offer daycare as well as out-of-school care, you must apply for two separate registrations. You must enclose proof of your registration in the Commercial Register, your pedagogical policy plan, and the certificates of good conduct for each of the childcare facility’s employees. By doing so, you demonstrate that you are able to offer responsible childcare right from the start. Once you have submitted your application, an inspector of the Municipal Health Service (Gemeentelijke Gezondheidsdienst, GGD) will review the quality of your childcare facility. Based on the outcome, the municipality will decide whether your facility will be included in the register.
21. Draw up regulations for the parents' committee
For each location you must have a parents' committee. You must adopt the parent committee regulations within 6 months of submitting an application to be included in the National Childcare Register to your municipal authority. This document has to be drawn up in Dutch. You can use a model agreement (in Dutch) provided by the Parents in Childcare Interests’ Association (BoinK) and the Childcare sector organisation.
22. Join the Childcare Disputes Committee
You have to join the Childcare Disputes Committee and register all of your childcare centre locations. You must also inform the parents and parents committee about your joining the Committee.
23. Use the notification code for responding to child abuse
The notification code for domestic violence and child abuse describes 5 steps you have to take when you or your employees suspect child abuse. If there is a suspicion of acute or structural danger, you have to report it via the Veilig Thuis website.
24. Observe your duty to inform the parents
Important changes are taking place in the Dutch childcare sector. Not only do you have to stay on top of what these changes are, you also have a duty to inform the parents of the children to whom you offer childcare. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has launched a special website, Veranderingen in de kinderopvang (only available in Dutch), where you can catch up on the latest news about changes in childcare. They also publish an e-newsletter.
Statistics: enterprises in child day-care
Number of enterprises in child day-care