The draft law for childcare in the Caribbean Netherlands (“Wet Kinderopvang BES”) was presented to the Dutch Parliament’s Second Chamber on Thursday, February 16. This proposal for a new law lays down the basic rules for the quality, supervision and financing of childcare on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius.
The aim is to provide good, safe and affordable childcare for all children in the Caribbean Netherlands, so that every child has the opportunity to fully develop him/ herself.
The quality requirements in the draft law largely correspond with the requirements that already apply through the island regulations for childcare. These include requirements for pedagogical conduct, child safety and health policy.
With the BES(t) 4 kids programme many childcare organisations on Bonaire, Statia and Saba are already well on their way to meeting these quality requirements.
The proposal for a new law also contains quality requirements to ensure that the transition of children from childcare to primary school is smooth and that developmental and learning disadvantages are prevented. Therefore, day-care centres on the islands have to work with a programme for pre-school education and the development of children has to be monitored.
Agreements must also be made between childcare and schools about how the transition will be organised. The intention is that primary schools offer an early childhood education programme in groups 1 and 2, that complements the programme in childcare.
Children who need extra support are accommodated within regular groups as much as possible. To support childcare organisations for children with minor problems, the public entities will provide pedagogical support and advice.
In case of more serious problems, the Expertise Center Education Care EC2 can be called in to make a diagnosis or have one made, to guide the child to specialist care or to refer the child to plus-care. Plus-care is care especially for children with needs for additional support.
Based on the law proposal, the Inspectorate of Education will be designated as the supervisor of childcare quality. In carrying out supervision, the Inspectorate will work together with local inspectors of the public entity and will, certainly in the first years, carry out stimulating supervision. This means that supervision is aimed at improving the quality of childcare.
According to the new law, the central government will largely finance childcare. In 2023, a follow-up study into the cost of childcare will be carried out. Based on the results of this study, the level of childcare fees and parental contributions will be determined.
The parental contribution will be lowered further to 4% of the actual cost price. This will also apply to the European Netherlands. The cost of childcare will then be no more than a few tens of US dollars for a month of full care that parents continue to pay to the childcare centre.
For parents who are unable to pay, the public entities may also decide to fully compensate the parental contribution. For parents who qualify, childcare is free.
Before the proposal becomes final, it will be submitted to the Dutch Parliament’s Second and First Chambers, respectively, and to the king to be signed into law.
The law will enter into force in phases. It is expected that in 2024, the parts related to quality and supervision will come into force. The part relating to financing will follow at a later date.
In addition, work is being done on the further elaboration of the draft law in an Order in Council (“Algemene Maatregel van Bestuur”). This will include further requirements for certain components relating to quality and supervision. In the first half of 2023, a consultation round will take place with, among others, childcare organisations, schools and parents on all three islands.
Website www.best4kids.nu provides a summary of the law proposal and an animated video.
The Daily Herald.