Starting a childcare centre
- Henk Herkink
- How to
- 15 Nov 2023
- Edited 23 Oct 2023
- 7 min
You like working with children and want to open your own childcare centre or afterschool care service. But how do you make it happen? As a ‘newbie’ in the world of childcare, you must find out if your plans are feasible. Do you meet all the requirements? Can you find the right location and staff? You must also deal with many regulations. This article tells you how to set up a childcare business.
All new business owners must come up with a name, start keeping administrative records, take out insurance, and register their business with KVK. Some considerations are specific to childcare businesses. Read what they are.
In 2022, there were a total of 20,171 childcare services in the Netherlands. The number of services increased by 20% over the past 5 years. The majority of these businesses are owned by newly established zzp’ers (self-employed professionals without staff) providing small-scale services. In 2021, more than 1,075,000 children were enrolled in an official childcare facility (source: Statistics Netherlands). This number has increased significantly in recent years (by way of comparison: in 2018, the number of children was 946,000).
If you are personally responsible for childcare, recruitment, and admin, you qualify as a childcare centre. In the Netherlands, this is called a kinderdagverblijf, kinderdagcentrum, or crèche. Childcare centres usually work in business premises. You may employ staff or work alone. You provide services to infants, toddlers, and pre-school-age children up to age 4. Childcare centres often also offer afterschool care.
Afterschool care (in Dutch: buitenschoolse opvang or BSO) is provided to children in primary school. Afterschool care means services provided to children outside school hours: services provided before and after school, during school holidays, and on days when schools are closed, such as seminar days.
Owners or employees of a childcare centre must have certain qualifications. If you, the owner do not have these, your employees must. To provide childcare, you need at least a ‘pedagogisch medewerker mbo niveau 3’ (pedagogical employee, vocational education level 3) qualification. Also, at least 1 adult must have a valid First Aid to children certificate.
Childcare staff must meet a number of rules. To work as a pedagogical officer, you need certain qualifications. If you understand Dutch, you can use the Kinderopvang Werkt! Website Diploma Check to see whether your employees have the required diplomas. Or which certificates they need to meet the legal requirements as set out in the Wet Kinderopvang (Childcare Act, in Dutch).
Professional childcarer - child ratio (BKR)
A minimum number of employees is required to be present per group of babies or toddlers in a childcare centre. This is called the professional childcarer – child ratio, BKR for short in Dutch. The childrens’ age determine how many professional childcarers have to be present. For example, you need 1 professional childcarer for every 3 babies. You can calculate the BKR with the BKR calculation tool (in Dutch). On top of that, you need to keep a record of which professional childcarers were present when, and the hours they worked. You must be able to present these lists for inspection to the GGD for 6 weeks after any given date.
Finding suitable accommodation can be difficult. The business location you start you childcare centre in has to meet the municipal zoning plan. The housing and construction department of the town or city you want to start in can give you more information. The 2012 Building Decree contains the requirements for new and existing buildings in which childcare centres are located.
Strict requirements apply when it comes to fire safety in childcare businesses (in Dutch). They are listed in the safe childcare regulation. Think of sufficient ventilation, windows in all rooms, fireproof doors, curtains, and play equipment. Get to know the accommodation requirements for your childcare centre. You may need an Omgevingsvergunning (all-in-one permit) for fire safety.
Does your location meet the staff and location requirements? Good. Now you need to make sure you meet the other requirements as well:
Register in the Personenregister kinderopvang (Register for persons active in the childcare sector or PRK). All executive members of staff must register with the PRK. To do so, you need a Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag Kinderopvang (Certificate of Good Conduct, VOnG). You can apply to your local authority for this.
Apply for eHerkenning, security level 3. You need this digital ID to log on to the PRK.
Register with KVK.
Draw up a pedagogical policy plan, in which you map out your ideas for your childcare centre. How do you interact with the children, so that they feel safe and can develop?
Draw up a health and safety policy to deal with risks to the health and safety of the children.
Register with the LRK
Have you taken care of everything and do you meet the requirements? Then you can apply to the municipality where you want to start your business for a licence from the Landelijk Register Kinderopvang (National Childcare Centre), LRK for short. Expect a reply in 10 weeks. Before you start, the GGD (Municipal Health Service) checks whether you satisfy all the requirements on behalf of the local authority. Another check follows after 3 months, and after that there will be a check once a year.
As a childcarer, you are responsible for the children. You may come across children who are being neglected or abused. You have to draw up a protocol on how to act in cases of child abuse (in Dutch). In it, you describe how to recognise signs of child abuse. How to deal with it, and how your staff should act.
You must set up a parent committee within 6 months of opening your childcare centre. To do so, you apply to the LRK.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
When building a customer database, you must make sure to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation, called AVG in Dutch). Without the consent of your clients, you are not permitted to record more data than is strictly necessary to run your business. There is a special GDPR manual for the transfer of information about children when they go to primary school (in Dutch).
Do you prepare meals, for example fruit snacks? You have to draw up a hygiene plan or HACCP. In it, you state how you prepare and store food. Use an approved hygiene code for this. There are also rules on how to clean the premises. These are listed in the Hygiene regulation for childcare centres, afterschool care, and preschools
The Wet kwaliteit, klachten en geschillen zorg (Wkkgz, Act on quality, complaints and disputes in the care sector) stipulates that you join an independent dispute committee. You also need to appoint a complaints officer (in Dutch) to deal with serious complaints from parents, that you cannot settle yourself.
In the Netherlands, childcare services are exempt from VAT (value-added tax/sales tax, BTW in Dutch). This means you are not required to charge VAT to parents or file VAT returns. Due to this exemption, you are also not authorised to claim VAT. You do have to pay income tax on your net profit.
You will send your parents monthly invoices. Parents can apply for Kinderopvangtoeslag (Childcare benefit) to be reimbursed for part of the childcare costs by the Belastingdienst. From 2023, the amount of the childcare allowance no longer depends on the number of hours worked by the parent who works the least hours.
The Belastingdienst uses different rates to calculate the Childcare benefit. These are the amounts applicable in 2023.
Max benefit for (rate per hour):
Childcare: 9.06 euro
Afterschool care: 7.79 euro
Set your rates
You determine your own rates. You can compare the amount you have in mind to that set by other childcare centres. Or use the rate the Belastingdienst uses to set the childcare benefit as guidance. You are free to calculate a higher rate, for example if your costs are higher. Dutch parents no longer receive a childcare allowance for the amount exceeding the hourly rates set by the Belastingdienst.
As the owner of a childcare centre, you have quite a few administrative obligations. You habe to keep records of salaries, invoices, and costs. But you also have to keep records of all your employees’ VOnG certificates and qualifications. Read this complete list of the extra records you must keep.
There is a number of sector organisations in the childcare sector. The BVOK (Branche Vereniging Ondernemers Kinderopvang) is the sector organisation for childcare entrepreneurs who employ a maximum of 250 employees. Sector organisations can give you information about regulations and protocols as well as personal advice. You do not have to join, but given the many rules and regulations in the childcare sector, and the rate at which they change, it may be a good idea.
New business owners also have to deal with:
- Choosing a legal structure
Coming up with a business name
Setting up your administration
Sorting out your taxes
Do you have questions about starting a childcare centre? Call the KVK Advice Team. Our advisers are glad to help.