Childcare centers cancelling contracts due to staff shortages
Some childcare centers in the Netherlands, including those operated by the industry leader Partou, have had to terminate current contracts with parents due to a lack of staff, as a result of which they can no longer meet quality requirements. Emmeline Bijlsma, director of the childcare sector organization BK, confirmed this after it was reported by RTL Nieuws. Many dozens of children can no longer receive care, she said.
"It is still very little out of a total of 823,000 children. They are occasional occurrences, but it is terrible. The parents are at a loss," she said.
One Utrecht after-school care facility operated by Partou, the largest childcare provider in the country, told parents just before Christmas that they will have to disband two of their groups. "Partly due to coronavirus, absenteeism is higher than usual," the company said. That will happen on February 1, giving the parents just five weeks during the holidays to find an alternative solution. A spokesperson told RTL Nieuws that they will try to assist the parents who are most affected.
Bijlsma also warned against making childcare much cheaper, as stated in the coalition agreement. "Then you get even more demand. We can only meet that if there is a program to help us with that."
Upcoming contracts were also placed on hold by childcare centers, because they are no longer sustainable. Many centers will no longer be expanded, although there are now 10,000 more children to care for than last year. There are also many waiting lists. "We are trying to prevent all of this with all our might. We always want to be ready, as we are now during the lockdown."
There may be something to be said for lowering some quality requirements, Bijlsma said. That is also being looked at, and some rules have also been temporarily relaxed. However, this should only concern requirements in areas pertaining to administrative matters and the like. "But it is a serious profession. You guide children in their development, the requirements for this are high, and rightly so."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.