Finance

Parents for the block: childcare abruptly stopped

For example, Partou, the largest childcare organization in the Netherlands, has put children on hold from an after-school care facility in Utrecht. As of February 1, two groups will be abolished. This was (just before Christmas) communicated to the parents via a letter.

Exceptional measure

As far as we know, this is the first time that an organization has been forced to close groups due to staff shortages. “The demand for qualified pedagogical staff is much greater than the supply”, parents are told. “Partly due to corona, absenteeism is higher than usual.”

Stopping the reception is an exceptional measure, says David Gribnau, spokesman for Partou. “We try to solve these kinds of problems in the first instance by relocating children or looking at the care days. It is fitting and measuring throughout the sector due to staff shortages and these kinds of problems actually affect all organizations.”

That is also what Emmeline Bijlsma, director of the trade association BK, says. “There are more and more reports of contracts that are being canceled by childcare. First there were contracts from parents who would start in two months. Now from parents who are already using childcare.”

Parents want more childcare

Bijlsma thinks that the problem will become more frequent in the near future, especially now that the new cabinet wants to make childcare virtually free in the long run. As a result, the demand for childcare is already increasing, says Bijlsma. Knowing that there are waiting lists, parents are preparing for the new situation. They are asking for an extension of the contract ‘from two to three, four or even five days’.

Gjalt Jellesma, chairman of the interest group for parents in childcare (BOinK), sees the problems rapidly increasing due to the staff shortage. “At first it was mainly about temporary closures, now entire groups are being dissolved.”

‘Employees are being bought away’

It is not the first time that childcare has been faced with a chronic shortage of employees, he says. “But the prospect is now much worse because at the same time there is a huge shortage in adjacent sectors, such as education and care. What you see happening now, with that incredible amount of money that has been poured into education to eliminate the learning disadvantages caused by corona : employees in childcare are simply bought away.”

This not only puts parents at risk, but also childcare organizations. “If you don’t have people, then you don’t have people.” The outgoing cabinet wants to give the sector air by easing supervision and allowing more trainee employees. But that is no more than a stopgap, says Jellesma. “Then the quality of the reception will inevitably decrease and you will see that employees work themselves even more often.”

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