Multilingual childcare to be regulated by law

12 December 2023
From 1 February 2024, kinderopvangcentra (childcare centres) in the Netherlands will be allowed to offer multilingual daycare. A maximum of 50% of childcare time may be offered in German, English or French. The other 50% must be in Dutch, Fries or another regional language, such as Mestreechs.

Source:Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, SZW), 9 November 2023

Possibility of multilingual childcare to be regulated by law

Childcare centres will be allowed to offer multilingual childcare from 1 February 2024. The Eerste Kamer (Senate) today approved a bill proposed by Minister Van Gennip (SWZ). This will allow childcare to be offered in German, English or French for up to 50% of the daily care time. Buitenschoolse opvang (out-of-school care, BSO) has already been allowed to be offered multilingually for some time.

Minister Van Gennip: "The world is becoming increasingly international. As a result, we ourselves, but also our children, are increasingly confronted with other languages. The rule is: “jong geleerd, is oud gedaan” (learned young is done old). That is why I want to offer children the opportunity to start learning a second language as early as when they start childcare. This helps a child's development and language skills, as well as having a positive effect on later job prospects."

Research by the SWZ shows that there is a need among parents to send their children to multilingual childcare. Especially for childcare in English and in border regions there is a need for German and French. Offering childcare in these other languages also creates a 'doorlopende leerlijn’ (continuous learning trajectory) with primary education.

In recent years, multilingual childcare has been experimented with in the Netherlands. This has shown that multilingual childcare offers advantages for both children who speak Dutch at home and for children for whom Dutch is a foreign language. A division of exposure to at least 50% Dutch (or Mestreechs or another dialect) and a maximum of 50% German, English or French has positive effects on children's language development.

Further conditions for multilingual childcare and out-of-school care will be worked out and later included in the 'Besluit kwaliteit kinderopvang’ (childcare quality decree). The aim is to publish these conditions in the first quarter of 2024.

© Aron Nijs Fotografie