Sector assesses and warns: ‘Closure threatens many day-care centres’

A cough or runny nose is no exception for nursery staff. Corona hasn’t changed that. However, it is different than before in that staff now have to be tested in case of such health complaints. “And that takes too long,” says director Emmeline Bijlsma of the childcare organisation. The industry warns that childcare organisations are going to collapse

A poll shows that one in three nurseries expects to close soon. “They can’t knit the schedules,” says Bijlsma. “One in three nurseries can’t use ten percent of the staff. This, in combination with the already existing structural staff shortage, means that there is no other option but to close,” says Bijlsma. “The situation is dire.”

A runny nose in the autumn

With autumn approaching, the beginning of the flu season, day care organizations are still very worried. Bijlsma: “That manifests itself in a rare high response rate.” In the survey, 220 organizations of the 1100 affiliated organizations with the Brancheorganisatie Kinderopvang and the Branchevereniging Maatschappelijke Kinderopvang participated. These 220 organisations have an average of 186 staff members, ranging from two people to 5500 staff members.

According to the trade associations, a solution lies in having childcare staff tested as a matter of priority, which is why they are knocking on the door of the Ministry of Social Affairs this afternoon. But they are not the only ones: people with vital professions in care and education also want priority in the corona test street.

The branch organisation calls child care the “facilitator of the economy”: without child care millions of people cannot work. “Childcare really must be given priority”, according to the trade association. “Otherwise the Netherlands will come to a standstill again.”

Bijlma therefore advocates using the list of crucial professions to determine who should be given priority in the coronavirus tests:

The poll shows that 75 percent of the members are currently missing five percent of their staff. 35 per cent say they miss more than 10 per cent of their staff. The reason staff are absent in 77 percent of all cases is because of waiting for a coronavirus test or a result.

Bijlsma hopes that the ministry will raise with Hugo de Jonge that something must be done about the testing capacity. “Ultimately, the minister must get moving.”

The branch organisations do not expect staff to avoid a coronavirus test beforehand in order to be able to continue working. “I don’t think so, we’re a clean industry.”

Just putting someone else in front of the group is not desirable, according to Bijlsma. “And we shouldn’t, we shouldn’t put unauthorized people in front of the group. We don’t want that, we’re not a babysitting centre.”

Especially young children have to get used to the person in front of the group. Moreover, the demands made on nurseries and staff are high. “You can’t just change.”