In the Netherlands the Bernard van Leer Foundation has separate strategies for reducing violence in young children’s lives and for early learning. In our analysis of the Netherlands, we found that issues related to the physical environment were not a major priority for children, and for that reason we elected not to programme on that goal.
The two strategies overlap and complement one another, both having some components which are national in scope, but focusing mainly on the four largest cities in the Randstad (or coastal provinces): Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague, and two municipalities still to be selected from rural areas of Friesland and Groningen. The goals are:
A reduction in violence in families with children under 4 years of age growing up in social and economic disadvantage.
The National Prevelance study in 2005 estimated there were 107,200 cases of child abuse and neglect, 88% of them by the child’s biological parent. Although children aged under 4 represent only 22% of children, they were the victims of 31% of these cases.
Violence in the family affects children not only as victims but also as witnesses to intimate partner violence, which is also more likely when children are young. 1 out of 8 people in the Netherlands say they have experienced intimate partner violence, and it is estimated that up to 90% of incidents may go unreported.
Family factors correlated with child abuse and neglect included having low educational level of parents (risk increases 7 times); being in a large family (risk doubled); being in single parent family (risk doubled); and parental unemployment (risk increases 5 times when both parents unemployed), the latter being especially significant given the current economic instability.
Reduce the learning gap between children of low socio-economic status (SES) and other children in the Netherlands
Children of parents with a low level of education and of migrant families enter school with a disadvantage in Dutch language and mathematical skills. This is a double disadvantage for children in migrant families, who are more likely to have parents with limited education and grow up speaking a different language in the home.
This handicap is reflected in data from Cito tests carried out at the end of primary school. On the total scores, the gap between non-native, non-Dutch-speaking children and native Dutch children is 10 percentage points. The gap in language is 11 percentage points . The impact of this apparently small difference in their 12th year of life is a major factor in defining whether they are tracked into a school system that sends them to university, college or vocational education. The consequences for their role in the workforce are enormous and affect them throughout the rest of their lives.
In the Dutch context, where the principal reasons for poor learning relate to a poor educational environment at home and low proficiency in the Dutch language, there is a range of early learning services that have the potential to reduce this disadvantage. These include modalities such as home visiting, childminders, pre-schools, playgroups, daycare centres, after-school care, and the first years of primary school. However, the quality of these services, especially for children under 4, is low across the board and 16% of low-SES children in that age group do not participate in any learning programmes at all.
You can download a summary of our Netherlands strategy on violence and a summary of our Netherlands strategy on early learning, outlining how we are approaching these two goals. Also available are two-page handout summaries in English and Dutch.
Do you have comments on our goals in The Netherlands? Please contact our programme officer for The Netherlands, Jeanet van de Korput: Jeanet.vandeKorput@bvleerf.nl