- Full childcare
- Out-of-school care
- Contact information
This involves your child being looked after at the childminder's house along with other children, who may be the childminder's own and/or other children. It provides your child with a natural home environment and one which is usually quieter than a crèche, and it allows for more personal attachment and frequently more flexibility both for your child's own schedule (or even illness) and your own lateness or unusual working hours.
An oft-quoted downside of a childminder is your reliance on one person, meaning that you need a fallback should they be ill, but in actual fact (and I draw on ten years' experience of childminders with four children) it is very much more frequently the case that your child is (mildly) ill, particularly in early infancy, and in this situation a childminder has undeniable advantages. In borderline situations (a marginal temperature, or an almost-well-again-but-not-quite child) a childminder will usually be willing to take your child and give him care as good as you would yourself, in peaceful domestic surroundings, which is not the case for a crèche.
The big problem for newcomers here is obviously finding a suitable childminder. First and easiest is the 'official' way; going through a placement agency to find a qualified, registered childminder. All agencies work in a similar way; first talking to you to establish what your requirements/preferences are, and then trying to match you up with someone not too far away who can offer care on the day(s) you wish. This has the enormous advantage of at least some assurance that the person to whom you are entrusting your brood is safe, suitable and checked out. Furthermore, your childminder must be registered with an agency if you wish to claim the childcare subsidy.
Until about fifteen years ago, childminder registration and checking was government-run by the municipality. Many of these ex-government departments now operate as private childminder agencies in their area, Smallsteps (used to be B4kids, www.smallsteps.nl) in Leiden and SKO in Oegstgeest (www.sko-oegstgeest.nl), both of which also run crèches and after-school care centres. In addition to this there is now a number of other agencies, some with local presence and some internet-based. I would urge you to choose an agency with the most personal contact possible; you can't find the right childminder via two phone calls and a website. The agencies listed are Dutch-speaking, but like all institutions here will do their best to help you in English if need be.
Finally, word of mouth (you will soon learn the Dutch for this, ' via-via
') is an excellent way of finding someone; it's just not so easy for the outsider with no Leiden network. Ask everyone you know, and have a look at the 'Find a Babysitter' section on this website, where in addition to casual weekend-evening-options, you may well find students looking for a regular gig of a couple of afternoons or full days each week.
Smallsteps (www.smallsteps.nl); offices in Leiden (they own many crèches here) and childminders all over the area. I can personally recommend them. SKO, the main Oegstgeest daycare organisation, does the same in the Oegstgeest/Voorhout area, working through Kroostopvang (www.kroostopvang.nl), and seem to be reliable. Compananny (www.compananny.nl) hires out their qualified nursery nurses as nannies – see the website for more information.
If you google or look in the Yellow Pages you will see some childminders advertising themselves (usually as ' kleinschalige kinderopvang
', small-scale childcare) alongside crèches; these are self-employed individuals but will still be fully legal and accredited and thus eligible for the subsidy. Viaviela is a nationwide organization specifically for gastouders with a branch on the Haarlemmerstraat in Leiden– see www.viaviela.nl
Flexmoeders www.flexmoeders.nl) operates nationally to match parents with childminders in the area. Its founder is a woman who is a vocal advocate for childminding in government debates etc., and they do screen their childminders effectively.
These are many and varied; www.regeltante.nl, www.gastouderopvang.nl, www.mrnosey.nl and other similar sites are more like dating agencies for parents and would-be childminders.You will see good qualified and registered childminders listed, along with random 16-year-olds seeking an evening job now and then; the site gives the contact details, and you do all the legwork. Regeltante and Mr. Nosey offer 'let us find you someone' services (at a fee) and allegedly check the qualifications of people who advertise on their sites.
Use sites like this at your own risk; Regeltante, for example, does not come recommended. They do not keep applicants' information up-to-date, their service is very poor, and one HomeinLeidenite was sent two very unsatisfactory people whom the agency had neither met nor checked in any way.