My child is due to start childcare
Is your child growing up faster than you can say Jack Robinson? Check! Before you know it, it's time for you to leave your little one at a daycare facility or with a host family for the first time. If your child attends a childcare facility, then you will receive a childcare allowance. This is one of the supplementary allowances that forms part of the Growth Package.
What is the Childcare Allowance?
Is your child attending a Dutch-language childcare facility in Flanders or Brussels-capital? And are you exempt from payment based on your income? Then you’re entitled to a childcare allowance: 3.23 euros per child, per day of childcare.
How is the allowance calculated?
A full day comprises a minimum of 5 hours.
|> 5 hours of childcare||3,32 euros per child|
|3 to 5 hours of childcare||1,66 euros per child (half a full day of childcare)|
|< 3 hours of childcare||no supplementary allowance applies|
5-Month-old Mika attended a childcare facility for 17 full and 3 half days in September. He was entitled to a childcare allowance of 61.42 euros (18.5 days of care x 3.32 euros) that month.
How do you obtain the childcare allowance?
Do you live in Flanders?
Then you needn’t do anything. Your childcare facility will provide a record of your child's attendance to your child benefit payment provider (possibly via the Child and Family Agency). Your childcare allowance will be automatically paid out on the 20th of the month following the month of childcare.
Please note: if you live in Brussels or Wallonia, this is not an automatic process and you must submit an application.
Is your child attending childcare for the first time?
Finding a suitable childcare facility
When should you start looking for a suitable childcare facility or childminder? Sooner rather than later. And preferably as soon as you fall pregnant. An enrolment application will only be officially accepted from your third month of pregnancy onwards. However, there’s no harm in being prepared! Take time to explore the options. Places are limited and highly sought after - yes, there are even waiting lists in certain cases - so start your search in plenty of time.
What types of childcare are available? Some childcare places are subsidised (by the Child and Family Agency in Flanders, by ONE in Wallonia and Brussels), others are not. If the childcare facility is subsidised, then you pay a fixed amount based on your income. Non-subsidised childcare places determine their own fees.
How can you find a suitable childcare facility? Most municipalities provide a childcare service. Check your municipality’s website or pay them a visit. You can sometimes visit the childcare facility itself in order to check whether they have an available place and to get acquainted. You can find a list of licensed childcare facilities on the Kind en Gezin or ONE website.
Did you know that your childcare costs are tax deductible (providing that the childcare facility is licensed)? You can deduct a maximum of 11.20 euros per day, per child. This amounts to a tax reduction of 45% of your costs. Check the conditions on the FPS Finance website.
Always verify that your childcare facility is licensed! Non-licensed childcare facilities are not authorised to take care of babies or toddlers. And you will not receive a tax certificate for your childcare costs.
Consider whether you wish to opt for a nursery (group childcare) or a childminder (family childcare). Choose a childcare facility that you are comfortable with and where your child will feel most at ease.
Right first time: tips for facilitating the transition to childcare
‘Leaving’ your child behind for the first time is always an emotionally charged moment. For you, your little one and the childcare workers who are tasked with welcoming the newcomer. Tips for making that first step easier:
Check the childcare facility’s internal rules so you know how it operates.
Familiarisation is key. It's best to (briefly) visit the childcare facility with your child on three separate occasions prior to commencing childcare. This will allow your child to get used to their new environment. Unsure? Ask your childcare facility how they approach such introductory visits. Always do this at the child’s own pace: one baby requires more time to adjust to new situations than the other. Use these introductory visits to ask any questions that you may have. Better too many questions than too few.
Your baby can sense how you feel, so radiate confidence when dropping them off at the childcare facility for the first time.
Don’t take too long to say your goodbyes. This prevents your baby from becoming confused when that familiar face suddenly disappears. The longer you take, the harder it becomes - the same applies to you too, by the way.
Worried or concerned? Don’t be afraid to ask the childcare workers if you can telephone for a brief update during the course of the day.
Trust in the professionalism of the childcare workers. They know what they are doing: your little one is in good hands.