Daycare and pre-school
Dutch daycare centres accept children between the ages of 6 weeks and 4 years (the age at which children start with primary school in the Netherlands). Qualified teachers supervise children in play. They provide basic instruction and care for the children, feeding them and giving them an opportunity to take a nap. Parents are generally responsible for providing diapers for their children, but food is usually provided by the daycare centre.
Children can stay for up to 10 hours a day in a daycare centre (kinderdagverblijf). Operating hours vary per centre, but most are open work days from 8.00 to 17.30 hrs. Some offer extended opening hours with higher rates.
Parents should realise that there are often long waiting lists for spots in a kinderdagverblijf. The earlier you register your child the better. It may be a good idea to register your child with multiple childcare centres in the district of your choice until you are able to get a spot.
All official day care facilities in The Hague region can be found in the Landelijk Register Kinderopvang en Peuterspeelzalen (website in Dutch).
For many international families, toddler pre-school (peuterspeelzaal) is the first step into the Dutch school system. Pre-school is a non-compulsory educational program to help children aged between 2,5 and 4 as they prepare to start primary school. Toddlers learn intellectual, emotional and educational skills, such as language and counting, social interaction, following directions, playing, sports and music.
After school care (naschoolse opvang)
Many primary school children need after school care: after school hours, on Wednesday afternoons when Dutch schools close early and during school holidays.
After-school care centres usually work with one or several primary schools in the neighbourhood. Often a teacher will walk over to the primary school, pick up the children and bring them back to the centre.