I am the mum of three little kids: a five-year-old son and two toddler daughters. For five years, we have relied on daycare in Haarlem: four years with Op Stoom and one year with Kinderopvang Haarlem. My conclusion: Op Stoom is much better!
Op Stoom vs Kinderopvang Haarlem
At Op Stoom, the kids had gym lessons, music lessons, did theme-oriented crafts, had lecture hours, learned cooking and dancing … they went to the library, the train station, the animal farm. We had group parents meetings in which we got games, quizzes, or movies about our kids, accompanied by pedagogical updates and suggestions. And we had individual parent meetings in which we discussed our kids’ character, personal and social behaviour, attitudes, and abilities and got tips for at home as well. I was surprised each week at work with an email from the daycare with photos of my kids riding a bike, constructing a castle, baking cake, dancing together… Almost every day they brought home something that they made at the day care.
My kids went to two different locations. They both were excellent, especially De Gracht.
Nothing of this happens at Kinderopvang Haarlem. When I bring my children there, kids are playing with the toys on the ground. When I pick them up, the “pedagogical employees” are talking together and the kids biking around. I hear nothing about my children but superficial remarks like: “ze hebben goed gegeten en lekker gespeeld vandaag” (they have eaten and played well today). That’s it.
I have to say that there is a big difference between the locations. At Pimpernel on the Tempelierstraat, the group leaders were very kind and interested in my daughters. At Kakelbont I never experienced any such interest and noticed no pedagogical approach.
Administration Kinderopvang Haarlem
What about the administration? Even worse. It took two weeks for Kakelbont to understand on which days the girls were coming. And it was right there in the contract.
Then there was the exchange day incident. I asked for an exchange day (you get it when you don’t use a paid day care day) which was confirmed and noted in the computer. On that day, the staff were not expecting the girls, so I had to bring them home, they told me. Fortunately, I could “defend” myself thanks to the note in the computer and thus could go to work. But how much wasted energy!
My last experience
We went on holidays in June. Schools in the Netherlands are closed for 6 weeks in the summer, starting in July. But we decided to go on holiday in June because high season is almost unaffordable with three kids. The girls missed the day care on 22, 23, 29, and 30 June.
When we came back on the 6th, the same pedagogical employee who had made “the computer mistake” told me that we could exchange days with days three weeks before and three weeks after the first day at the day care. In our case: July 27th. Those days I would not have had three kids at home but just my oldest son.
Based on this information, I booked a holiday house in Texel on 23 and 24 July with a friend of mine and her five-year-old son. I was so happy to be still able to bring my son on holidays during the school holidays! And to go alone with him. It was also almost his birthday, and I felt proud of giving him such a great extra birthday present!
NOT! The day after the same pedagogical employee told me that the request was rejected, because it was not according to policy. She told me that if I had questions I could find the rule on a (new-to-me) document or contact the headquarters.
On the document, I found: “exchange days have to be taken three weeks before or after the fixed day care days.” The girls started on the 6th, so the deadline is still the 27th, isn’t it?
I wrote to the headquarters, to ask more explanation about the policy. And also explaining that whichever the policy is, the situation now is: because of what an employee told me and an unclear written policy I had booked a two days’ holiday with my son and his little friend. In high season I can’t change the dates, neither the number of persons. I also cannot afford to pay for two extra days for the exchange days that we should get for free as already paid.
My son would be totally disappointed to cancel his birthday holiday last minute. We were two days from going! My friend was already there waiting for us. They ruin two kids’ holidays. So, policy or not, maybe there is a human solution for once. Classes are half empty at the moment.
I got an e-mail from the cluster manager Jacqueline in which she advised me to look at the website for more information about the policy. Couldn’t she tell me personally? Was that too much effort? And with the request not to write to the headquarters, but to her or her colleague. Keep it indoors, I understand that.
The day after her colleague Ebeline told me that according to the policy the deadline is 21 July and not the 27th, because they count from the last day of the holiday, not the first day of the day care. Why did her employee give me the wrong information then? It should be the responsibility of the leaders to let their employees tell correct rules to clients. There is enough space, but they as can only come if we pay an extra fee of €300.
I wrote again to her, a similar e-mail as the previous one asking her to re-evaluate the case and she wrote to me that I could make an intake appointment and visit the daycare building. I really felt baffled: I had had an intake appointment already, I speak to the pms every day care day, and I know all the rooms of the building where my daughters stay. Does she think that I am an idiot? And what, by the way, was is the link to the question I’d asked?
Kinderopvang Haarlem uses as slogan that the well-being of the children is the only priority, the truth is that they don’t care at all about emotional factors and the well-being of children, only about the extra money that they can get. Not being professional, they are not even able to treat a client in a respectful way. Of course they will not care, everything will finish in the ”doofpot” (cover-up) . Maybe that’s the reason why I don’t have to mail the headquarters?
And they are right: I work during the week and I need day care. So when I will pick up my son later, I will DISAPPOINT him telling him that we won’t leave tomorrow and that he will have another birthday present. Parents can imagine how hard this will be. When it will pick up my daughters today. I will try to smile, because I DO care of their well-being. And have to keep smiling.
My conclusion is: I needed to vent about a frustrating situation, but really can recommend Op Stoom.