The Netherlands welcomes the Recommendation ‘Investing in children – breaking the cycle of disadvantage’. In the Coalition Agreement of 2012 the government agreed to intensify its policies on poverty whereby special attention will be given to children. The Netherlands scores quite well from an international and European perspective. Dutch children were rated by UNICEF as the most content in the world. Investing in children nevertheless remains a priority of the Dutch government. Together with local authorities and relevant private and non-governmental organisations, the government continues to invest in children.
Labour participation of parents is crucial with regard to the social inclusion of children.
The government is implementing various measures to secure the active participation of more people in society. The measures are aimed at promoting access to the labour market, guaranteeing an adequate minimum income and ensuring access to a high level of assistance for groups at risk.
One of the ways through which the government aims to support the participation of parents in the labour market is through reforming child-care benefit schemes. The Netherlands has a broad scheme of child care benefits enabling parents to afford adequate care for their children. This support is for all sorts of costs related to having a child. The Netherlands also provides fiscal support such as a ‘combination credit’ which supports working parents with young children.
The current system of schemes is wide-ranged yet also complex and consists of multiple and sometimes contradictory schemes which could result in a poverty-trap, especially for single parents. This poverty trap for single parents is mainly due to the fact that allowances for the costs of children are far higher for single parents on social assistance than for working single parents, and the combination of working and caring for children is insufficiently rewarded. The aim of the reform is to simplify the system and provide income support for those who need it most. The effect of the reform is to increase labour participation of parents which consequently will have a positive effect on the social inclusion of children.
The legislative proposal has been accepted by the Dutch parliament in June 2014.
The National Reform Program 2014 provides an overview of available benefit schemes and policies aimed at labour-participation.
Early childhood education in the Netherlands is available for two different age groups - for toddlers from 2and a half years to 3 years and for children in the first two years of primary school - and particularly focuses on overcoming or preventing language deficiencies. Local authorities determine which children are eligible for early childhood education.
The Netherlands scores well on formal childcare. For children up to 3 years the NL has the fifth highest rate of children in formal childcare in the EU (46% in 2012). For children between 3 and the minimum compulsory school age, the Netherlands scores 6% above the EU average (89% vs. 83% respectively in 2012).
The measures taken in the Netherlands to reduce the school drop-out rate are primarily aimed at preventing young people from leaving school without any basic qualifications. The National Reform Program 2014 provides more information.
The Coalition Agreement states the importance of investing in the participation of children in play, recreation and cultural activities.
According to research, poverty in the Netherlands is not transmitted through generations. 93% of children who grow up in poverty are no longer poor as an adult. This does not mean that poverty among children does not require attention. According to recent research by the Children’s Ombudsman policies to reduce poverty among children can be improved. Based largely on input from children but also parents, professionals and policy-makers, the Children’s Ombudsman proposed several valuable recommendations.
The Investing in Children recommendation is highly welcomed by the Netherlands and is consistent with current and coming policies. Despite budget cuts, the Dutch government has reserved an additional €80 million to combat poverty and debt in 2014 and from 2015 on this will be a structural amount of € 100 million , the majority of which will be allocated to local authorities in line with their decentralized task. The State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment has called upon municipalities to devote special attention to applying this funding to the participation of children in poor families. Essential aspects of the increased investment will be aimed at:
Relevant stakeholders such as the Children’s Ombudsman will be engaged in the manner in which policies can be intensified.
Some of the additional funding of the poverty policy is being used for Sports Boost and the Youth Sporting Fund. Funding will also be provided to other organisations that promote the social participation of poor children.
The information in the country profile was last updated in September 2014.
Resto van Harte is a non-governmental organization, which aims to give lonely people a possibility to escape from social exclusion by cooking and have dinner together in their neighbourhood. Resto van Harte has 34 locations in the Netherlands. The activities are intended for people in social exclusion.
There are also locations of Resto van Harte (Child Resto’s) where children can help make dinner. During the dinner, children learn more about things like sport, healthy food, how to use pocket money wisely, etc. The activities of Child Resto’s are meant for children from families with minimal financial resources and/or children who are socially excluded.