Dear Mummies! I would like to give you some advice about how to secure a place for your children in a kindergarten or crèche. This applies in particular to female immigrants who have decided to spend their life in Poland.
I am from Azerbaijan. My husband, and the father of our 3-year-old Patrycja-Aisha, is a Pole. I was excited when my daughter was born because I had defended my PhD thesis just then. I was thinking of pursuing an academic career and developing the international scholarly magazine “New Prometheus,” the editor-in-chief of which I am now.
We came up against troubles when we started to search for a public crèche for Patrycja because we could not afford a private one. We live in Warsaw. We had believed we would find a place in a municipal unit in the capital city quite quickly. Quite the contrary. Due to a lack of places in the crèche, I had to suspend my academic career and devote all 3 years completely to my daughter. Of course, this was wonderful! Thanks to me little Patrycja knows almost all the letters, can count to twenty, knows some basic social rules, can use a computer and recite poems in three languages (by the way, I write poems and fairy tales for my daughter by myself). Still, I felt as if someone had deprived me of a chance to pursue a career, and Patricia of a possibility to learn Polish well.
Dear Mummies, you should look for a crèche and register your child there as early as during your pregnancy!
My fault was to miss by one year the deadline to register my child on the so-called queue list.
Dear Mummies, keep track of the deadlines for crèche or kindergarten registration.
In the age of computers, almost all offices give customers a possibility of submitting
an application on the Internet. The registration application form is available in the application registration system on the website of Warsaw Crèche Complex. A map of all the crèches in Warsaw is available here. The recruitment process usually begins in May and lasts till mid-June. It does not take much effort to fill in the form. Attention! You can choose three crèches in one application form. After you fill in the form, print, sign and submit it to the your first choice crèche.
Troubles begin when it comes to scoring points because “the system calculates points for the criteria chosen by parents by itself; in the event more than one applicant have the same number of points, the date and time of the application submission shall be the deciding factor so that a child is admitted to a crèche on the basis of a printout from the system, in a way that do not allow discretion” (1).
What does point scoring mean? In the application form, you have to answer several questions, for each of which you either gain or lose points, for instance: where do you submit your tax returns? My husband is registered for permanent residence in Turek; I am registered for temporary residence in Warsaw. We submitted our tax returns in different places although we both live and work in Warsaw. This detail cost us a loss of several points.
It is better to submit your tax returns there where you live rather than in the place where you are registered for residence!
But it is not that bad still. “(...) You should make allowances for the fact that children who meet the following requirements can be admitted out of turn: 1) children of parents/guardians whose one or more other children go to a given crèche, 2) children whose one parent or both parents hold a moderate level of disability certificate, 3) children whose parents/guardians are in a difficult living and housing situation.(...)” (2).
If your child has not been admitted due to a lack of places, you should not give up but wait patiently!
It should be noted that your child can take part in holiday classes conducted by public special kindergartens on duty. The following children have the right of priority to participate in the classes 1) children who attend a kindergarten on duty during the year; children who attend other public special kindergartens in Warsaw; children of working parents; children of single parents. The condition for the admission of a child to a kindergarten on duty is the submission by parents to the kindergarten on duty of an application and a copy of a certificate about special educational needs, certified to be a true copy of the original, from 5 to 31 May 2014” (3).
Now I am struggling with the kindergarten enrolment procedure. I missed the first deadline when “the full offer of kindergartens and primary schools was made available and the possibility of registration of admission applications was opened up” (3). The process lasts from 12 to 25 March. The full schedule of the process is available here. We were looking forward to the second round of the recruitment process, which began on 6 June. The list of free places in Warsaw kindergartens was published then.
We chose three units, filled inand signed an application form. The following day I went to the first choice kindergarten, where only one place was left. The kindergarten is situated in 1 Sierpnia Street and met all my criteria. It turned out, however, that there was a glitch in the system and the place was reserved for disabled children. Consequently, we were actually deprived of a chance to choose another kindergarten with places available. I went to the second kindergarten we had chosen in the application form, but I did not like it. My husband and I decided to enrol our child in a private kindergarten and wait for a place at the kindergarten in1 Sierpnia Street to be vacated.
What amuses me the most is my daughter’s approach. When our family and friends ask her “are you going to kindergarten this year?”, she answers in a sad tone “there’s no place for me there.” That’s too bad! I would like my daughter to start to integrate with her peers.
Dear Mummies-immigrants, do not be afraid of sending your children to Polish crèches or kindergartens. Do not lock your kids at home for fear of social intolerance. Please, follow my advice. It is Poland that has given us the second life and is our second motherland. Do not build national ghettos, but let’s integrate with Polish society. Remember that our children will be a part of the history of this country. As for other concerns, you should remember that “the European Parliament Resolution of 2009 states clearly that multiculturalism in a European school is a common phenomenon: << school institutions and individual teachers should regard diversity as a normal situation, treat each individual with respect, and give migrants the support they need>>. In contemporary Europe, the education of children with a migrant background is considered to be an important and obligatory element of the social policy of every UE member state, while pre-school and vocational education are the most important factors of effective integration process (Document of the Council of Europe of 2009 on the education of children with a migrant background)” (4).
By Dr Hijran Aliyeva-Sztrauch
Translation: Anna Orzechowska