While children living in Belgium begin school early, at only two and half years old, until they reach this age, working parents need to find childcare for their little ones.
Most parents send their children to one of the communal crèches for children from zero to three years of age. These communal crèches in Belgium are subsidised by the governments of the different language communities, so who you turn to find daily childcare depends on what language you and your child speak. These crèches are run by the Office de la Naissance et de L’Enfance (ONE) for French speakers or Kind & Gezin for Dutch speakers. Paying for childcare in a crèche is tax deductible.
How to sign up and how much will it cost?
Costs for the communal crèche rely on a sliding scale based on joint net income of the parents. In Flanders parents will pay between €1.56 en €27.72 per day, while in Wallonia and Brussels, costs range from €2.34 to €33.04 per day. What you will pay is determined by your income as well as other conditions (e.g. whether you’re a single parent; how many hours a day or a week you will use the crèche; whether you have more than one child in the same creche).
If you plan on using government-subsidised childcare, it’s important you start early. Both ONE and Kind en Gezin recommend registering your child when you are four months pregnant to secure a spot for your child.
What to look for
The most important part of choosing a caregiver is that you feel good about leaving your child with them. This means that the comes from the crèche or childminder both meets your practical requirements and provide an environment that feels happy and safe to you and suits your child’s needs.
Things to look for include: what is the teacher-to-student ratio in the classroom? How engaged do the staff seem with the children? Does the environment look clean and have toys and tools that will stimulate your child, let her explore and teach her new skills?
Finding a babysitter
The crèche will provide your child with a safe and educational environment during the day, but what about when you want to have a night off? Both ONE and Kind & Gezin publish lists of certified nannies, some of whom will also do one-off babysitting. La Ligue and Yoopies are both websites that allow you to search for babysitters by availability, as well as by specific skills, such as language.
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