As every parent knows, maintaining the right work-life balance can be a major challenge when both partners have careers. It can’t be done without getting childcare for the kids while they’re young… and that comes at a cost. To support families, the Luxembourg government created childcare service vouchers, a form of financial assistance that can be used to pay for childcare services and some extracurricular activities. Here’s all you need to know.
Around 50,000 children under 13 are looked after in Luxembourg’s after-school centres, crèches, day care centres and at the homes of childminders. Not only do these places allow parents to continue working, but they can also help children become integrated in their communities while developing their language and social skills.
Childcare service vouchers (French: chèques-service accueil) or CSAs let parents access childcare at a reduced cost or receive a certain number of free hours with accredited CSA service providers recognised by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth (MENEJ). The size of these State subsidies depends on the level of household income. One purpose of CSAs is thus to promote equality of opportunity, by enabling access to childcare that is guaranteed to meet specific criteria in terms of its quality.
Who can receive assistance?
All parents residing in Luxembourg can receive CSAs for children up to the age of 12, or even older if they still attend primary school.
CSAs can also be used for children with at least one parent who is a citizen of an EU member state and who works in Luxembourg, as long as they also receive family allowance in Luxembourg and that parent pays into the Joint Social Security Centre (CCSS) or works at an EU institution.
CSAs can be used at any childcare provider that meets the set quality criteria and is a recognised CSA Service Provider (French: prestataire du CSA).
Where can CSAs be used?
CSAs can be used at any childcare provider that meets the set quality criteria and is a recognised CSA Service Provider (French: prestataire du CSA). Whether your child needs a crèche, day care or after-school care will depend on their age. It’s up to you to find out which providers have space for your child, and to ensure you meet the admissions criteria some of them impose.
Bear in mind that if your child is under 5 and has not yet started school, you can get up to 20 hours per week of free childcare for them, for 46 weeks per calendar year. This rule was put in place to help young children develop their language skills through a multilingual education programme that introduces them to Luxembourgish and French. This benefit is independent of income, and can be used together with CSAs (which would then go to cover childcare exceeding 20 hours a week). Children enrolled part-time in pre-school are only eligible for up to 10 hours of free childcare a week.
In addition to childcare institutions, you can also turn to childminders (French: assistantes parentales) who can look after your child at their home, day or night. However, the 20 hours per week of free childcare for children under 5 do not apply to these providers.
CSAs can also pay for participation in creative activities or sports.
Finally, CSAs can also pay for participation in creative activities or sports. Does your child want to start music lessons, take drawing classes or play handball? Contact the club or group they’re interested in to find out if it’s a recognised CSA Service Provider.
How can I sign up to receive CSAs?
If you live in Luxembourg, all you have to do is visit the central administrative office for your commune. They will have you sign a CSA agreement stating the amount of State subsidy and the amount that remains for you to cover. Then the MENEJ will send you a myCard fir Kanner card that will also grant access to certain services, such as age-appropriate educational materials for your child. Eligible parents living outside of Luxembourg must go to the Childrens’ Future Fund (Caisse pour l’avenir des enfants) to sign the agreement, or send the application form by post.
Please note that you can only sign one agreement per child, and each agreement can only have one postal and billing address. Agreements are valid for 12 months from the date of signature, and each one must be renewed every year before it expires. If you fail to renew an agreement, you will have to cover the full cost of your child’s care. Furthermore, simply signing a CSA agreement isn’t enough – you still have to enrol your child at the accredited childcare centre of your choosing.
The amount provided by the State in the form of CSAs is calculated based on several factors, starting with your household income.
How much do parents have to pay by themselves?
The amount provided by the State in the form of CSAs is calculated based on several factors, starting with your household income. The number of children in the household for whom you receive family allowance, and how many younger or older siblings a child has, are also considered. Finally, the authorities look at what kind of childcare is desired and how many hours per week are needed.
The State subsidy is capped at 60 hours/week for a maximum of €6.00/hour for a childcare institution, and €3.75/hour for a childminder during the day (7am–7pm) or €4.25/hour at night (7pm–7am), on weekends and on holidays. In addition, the State will help fund 5 meals/week, up to €4.50/meal. The subsidy is paid directly to the CSA Service Provider where your child is enrolled.
To find out how much you’ll have to cover, check the payment scale for parents. Whether you’re married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting has no effect on the calculation of your household income. You will be required to provide all the documents needed to determine the level of this income (copies of your most recent tax notice, the annual certificate confirming your employment or unemployment, a recent payslip, etc.). If you cannot do this, you will automatically be placed in the scale category for those with no proof of income, which receives the lowest funding.
As a final word of advice, rest assured that the parents’ contribution for childcare during school breaks can never exceed €100.00/week (not including meals).
Now that you’re aware of the basics concerning CSAs, we encourage you to contact the central administrative office for your commune with any further questions you may have.