Being a parent is great, but it’s more than a full-time job. Working 24 hours a day, seven days a week wouldn’t pass any labour board, but mums and dads do it all the time. Thankfully, the Dutch get that everyone needs some time off. Enter: gastouders.
Parents, be warned: this could change your life.
Have you ever heard of this unique Dutch childcare service called the Gastouderbureau? If you need flexibility in your schedule and are maybe overwhelmed by the number of kids in a daycare facility, this one is for you.
What is a gastouder?
A gastouder literally translates to ‘guest parent.’ It’s a small-scale licensed childminder who typically works from their own home. Understandably, it’s heavily regulated, so each gastouder can take on up to a maximum of six children total, within the following age limits:
- five children under four years old,
- four children under two years old,
- and two children under one year of age.
Every gastouder must be registered to gastouderbureau and have relevant diplomas and experience taking care of the children of these ages.
My experience with gastouders
To be honest, I had never heard of gastouders before until my son was nine months old. At that time I was struggling as a stay-at-home mom in terms of my son’s social interactions. When I learned about gastouders I immediately registered my son and he was enrolled within a week.
I started off slowly by sending him for three hours for two days a week. I was surprised to see positive changes in such a short span of time!
— Stichting Kwest (@StichtingKwest) July 2, 2019
When it comes to your children, you look for people whom one can trust and who have proper laws and contracts in place. Also, who can adhere to your ways in terms of food, environment, and fellow companions. Gastouders can do this!
These days, many parents prefer a gastouder over a daycare. With the help of this article, you will understand everything about gastouders and the bureau which will help you decide what is best for you and your children.
What is the role of Gastouderbureau?
The Gastouderbureau will help you to search for a gastouder that meets your requirements. They are also responsible to make a relevant contract and calculating the monthly bills which will further help you to reimburse your childcare tax benefit called Kinderopvangtoeslag.
If you enter into any disagreement with your gastouder, then the bureau is also responsible for sorting it out. Also when your gastouder is on holiday, it’s the responsibility of the bureau to arrange alternate gastouder for your children. Ideal, right?
Benefits of gastouder
- A personalised experience, offering more individual attention to your child
- Flexible with the number of hours per day
- You can set your food preference and choose to send a snack or not
- Children are familiarised with the Dutch language, culture, and upbringing
- Gastouders provide a friendly home environment
- Generally cheaper and more flexible than a daycare centre
What is the cost of gastouder?
The contract is between you and the gastouderbureau but you will have to decide the number of hours and days with gastouder. You can then agree on an hourly rate with your gastouder which generally ranges from €4.5-6 per child, per hour.
In addition to the hourly rate, there is a fixed monthly cost for the bureau which ranges from €30-50 per month per child. The gastouder can either charge extra for diapers and milk, or you can provide them daily as required.
What is a childcare allowance?
The government pays a portion of your children’s childcare services. The exact amount depends upon the combined income of both partners. The lower the income, the higher the government contribution. You calculate your child care allowance from here.
Step-by-step guide to finding gastouder:
Convinced and ready to get your child to a gastouder ASAP? Here’s what you need to do:
- Plan out your requirements: pets or no pets? Non-smoking? Garden or no garden?Food preferences? Not to mention the location of the gastouder, and your day and time requirements.
- Search for your local Gastouderbureau: type: ‘Gastouderbureau in [your region]’ on Google
- Contact the bureau: and discuss your needs.
- Book intake meetings: schedule multiple with various gastouders near your place. Have a look around and see how the current children are doing.
- Found one? Have a chat: if you like the place and feeling, discuss further the availability on your preferred days and the number of hours per day.
- Talk about flexibility: what will happen on holidays and sick days?
- Inform the bureau: tell them you found a match and they will make an online contract for you and gastouder that both parties have to sign.
- Pay the bills: each month gastouder will send you the number of hours to approve. Based on those approved hours you will get a monthly bill.
- Claim your childcare allowance: based on these bills.
And voila! Your children have guest parents, education, and social development in a Dutch environment, and you get some well-deserved hours back into your day.
Have you used a gastouder in the past? Got any questions? Drop them in the comments below!
Feature Image: Daria Shevtsova/Pexels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in January 2020, but was fully updated on April 2021 to bring you the most up-to-date information.