Across the European Union, half of all children under 3 years of age are looked after in childcare centres, with large differences between countries. In 2014, relatively more west European than east European children went to childcare centres. Seventy-seven percent of Dutch children received day care, compared with 27 percent of Bulgarian children.
Denmark front-runner in formal childcare
In Denmark, 70 percent of the youngest children were in some form of formal childcare <toelichting> in 2014. In Sweden and Norway this was the case for 50 percent of children. Most parents in eastern Europe make use of other – informal - childcare options. In most other countries, neither form is predominant, and parents use formal and informal options alongside each other. In the Netherlands, 45 percent of under-3s went to a day care centre or playgroup, and 64 percent were looked after (or also looked after) by relatives, child-minders or a nanny.
Dutch children spend relatively few hours in child care
Most countries where many children are taken to day care are countries where parents are more likely to work part-time. Not only do more people in the Netherlands and other west European countries such as the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Austria work part-time, but a relatively small percentage of children in these countries spend 30 hours or more a week in formal day care. Most east European children in formal childcare spend the whole week there.