Child care in the Netherlands may be different to what you are used to and is certainly not cheap, but the government does provide a number of entitlements and programs to reduce the cost to a more bearable number.
For foreigners coming to the NL with children between the age of 2 and 4, then VVE (Language development assistance (2 years – 4 years) might be the answer. The VVE is not limited to only expats living here, but for children with language development issues in general.
Through our. own experience, it seems that not many people know much about it. One Arnhem Together member got the wrong answers on two different occasions from the customer service help line at the school, from the nurse in our Consultatie bureau and from the director at the school. So you have to always ask and check, and just to be sure ask again.
Essentially the VVE is a language development program for children at the age of 2 – 4. It provides you with 12 hours at a peuterspeelzal (toddler play day care) OR at a kinderopvang (regular day care) that accepts the VVE and has the program. The first 6 hours are essentially free for you and the second 6 are covered partially by you. They will give you the exact calculation when you enroll your child. However, it basically means that you could be able to use child care 3 days a week for 4 hours each time at a fraction of the cost as a means of supporting their Dutch language skills.
In order to obtain the VVE you need to first go see the day cares and play rooms (kinderopvang and peuterspeelzals) near you, ask each if they have the program and see which one you like better. Then contact your Consultatie Bureau (CB) for an appointment. When you go you simply explain you want to apply for VVE as your child either does not speak any Dutch, or there is delay in their speech, or is not speaking at all etc. They will ask if you are planning on staying in the NL for a longer period. If you are here only for a few months, they will not approve your request. You have to tell them in which day care (peuterspeelzal or kinderopvang) you want to enroll your child and the CB will send the form directly to them when approved. Once your preferred day care receives the form they should contact you and your child can pretty much start immediately. The best advice is to check if the day care had received the application about 10 days after your appointment just to be sure everything is in order.
So this is it. A very simple process but for some reason a lot of uncertainty surrounds the VVE. Even if you are not sure that you qualify for VVE – just set up the appointment and check. And always ask at your nearest kinderopvang if they accept it too – some do, but they don’t put that information on their website.
Here is a useful link with all the benefits included and explained: https://www.iamexpat.nl/expat-info/allowances-benefits-netherlands/child-benefits