Brussels creches.(12 Posts)
We moved to Brussels last month and have now realised just how difficult it is to secure a place at a creche. We need a place for a 6 month old from Sept 2012. As seems to be the norm, all the commune nurseries near where we live and work are full with long waiting lists so we need to choose a private one.
I've had a search through old posts here and found a few comments, but I'm wondering if anyone has any experiences (good or bad) with either Kid Farwest or Kids Attitude creches to help us make the right choice. Or even if you know of other expats who've used either of them and whether or not they were happy. Any information would be greatly appreciated as there doesn't appear to be much independent information out there.
I have only ever visited KidFarWest in Stockel, found it rather too clean and no toys on floor for the children to play with. Certainly loads more space than you'd find in a typical private creche. BUT this chain is reall really expensive compared to a typical private creche. I would not contemplate it at all for part-time, as the prices are even higher. A private creche full-time might set you back 500 euro per month, KFW will cost I believe over 800 euro. My friend's son went part-time and paid pro-rate 1300 euro per month!!!! I am guessin Kids Attitude to be similar.
Just looked up Longtime's list, near you there is a creche at Ecole Ste Anne for example, not owned or run by the commune, private but as it's an ASBL, it makes no profit. There are several other creches like this in your area.
A diplomat I met once had her child at a part-time only creche called Symphonie des Petits she said was not expensive. Another diplomat had her baby a non official creche in Ixelles but not far away called "Thumberlinas", run in English. You cannot offset fees against tax, unless it has finally registration with ONE or Kind en Gezin, but because of this status, it might be more liekly to have vacancies.
Both ONE and Kind en Gezin websites have search facilities for creches in your area. There is also this link ..
Hi Natation, thanks for all the suggestions.
Yes it's for full time. I'm obviously more confused than I realised, because I used the list on that link from the commune website and I assumed those were the commune ones. I visited Ste Anne last week and they already had 20 babies on the waiting list.
I should also have said that we're quite limited in location as we dont have a car so need a creche that we can walk to and then quickly get back to public transport to get to work which is why those 2 expensive private creches were looking good. Also my French is none too good and they seem to market to expats and have staff who speak english. I intend to improve my French before then but am worried that in an emergency I might have communication difficulties.
I believe the 3 creches attached to the Catholic schools are all ASBLS and probably owned by a Catholic organisation (our school building for example is owned by some elderly nuns in Leuven), the other ones in that list "creche de jour" might be owned by Etterbeek commune. Don't be disheartened, you may get a place from a waiting list, just need to keep checking up, and at least Etterbeek does seem to have a very large market. Try the neighbouring communes of Ixelles, Schaerbeek, Bruxelles 1000.
I suppose it depends on whether you can afford 800 euro per month, it might be even more expensive than that. Remember the number of babies to staff ratio is unlikely to be better at these creches than any other creche, expect 7 to 1 ratio. I suspect the owners of these creche chains may be getting quite rich - one of them lives near where I used to live and her house is worth at least 2 million.
My elder daughter (now 3 and at school) went to a Kid Farwest creche. It was expensive (more than other private creches in the area) but I suppose when I enrolled her I was comparing with the cost of childcare in the UK so it seemed OK value to me! Also, it turned out to be the best located creche for us at the time.
DD was perfectly happy there and there were plenty of toys, games and activities to keep the children interested. The creche workers were very caring and my daughter became very attached to them.
However, I can't say I was overly impressed by the management or their employment policies. Staff turnover seemed quite high (but perhaps that is common in creches?). Management not good at keeping parents informed of problems, staff changes, etc. (to the extent of withholding information), despite lots of unnecessary fancy-pants marketing, branding, leaflets, etc.
KF does come across as a money-making venture rather than a labour of love, I must say.
We chose not to send DD2 to a Kid Farwest creche for various reasons, but if push came to shove and I was stuck for choice I would use Kid Farwest again, I think.
Having said that, don't despair if the creches all have long waiting lists. Lots of families sign their children up for every creche going in the hope they'll get a place at one, so places can and do free up quite quickly. One friend signed up for a creche in autumn 2009 and was told no places before September 2010, but was then offered a place for February 2010.
Whereabouts are you looking for a creche, by the way?
Hi Gastronome and Natation. Thanks so much for the info. We've still a couple of creches to visit, but Kid farwest is looking like the best fit for us. We're looking for somewhere as close as possible to Montgomery as we'd be dropping off then commuting from there. It's less than 800 per month which does compare ok to what we'd have been paying in the UK. It's a difficult one knowing that we "might" get a place elsewhere, but im a bit of a planner/control freak by nature and the idea of not booking it and then having a last minute panic about finding a place worries me. Gastrognome, what did you feel that they were withholding information about if you dont mind me asking? Was it just when staff left/were replaced? I did notice a clause in contract about them not sharing details of their staff. Reassuring to hear that your experience of the creche workers was positive though.
BestImitation, do bear in mind that KidFarWest and Kids Attitude chains ALWAYS have vacancies and you do have 8 of their creches in the Etterbeek/Schuman/Mérode/Montgomery area. Like gastrognome says, it's normal that parents sign their babies up to several creches, that creates larger waiting lists, once a parent gets a place at one of them, they take their name off the waiting lists of the other creches they are signed up for, then the vacancies appear, so don't despair you are not immediately offered a place at the other private and public creches. Therefore, if you wait until nearer the birth of your baby and do NOT sign with KidFarWest or Kids Attitude, you may well get a place at a regular private creche which will cost around 500 euro a month (that's about an average price). If it turns out you don't get lucky with the other local creches, then you could later sign up for KidFarWest. But if you sing up to KidFarWest now, there's no going back, a contract is a contract and you will have to read it closely, chances are there are penalties to pay if you don't take up a KidFarWest place you have signed for. So do think carefully before signing a contract with KidFarWest so far in advance, because there will always be a place in their creches.
BestImitation, I understand your reasoning as it's very similar to mine when choosing a creche! I couldn't bear the uncertainty.
What I meant about KF "withholding" info is that there were certain issues regarding a couple of staff members leaving - things that parents should really have been told - but the management were extremely evasive, even when questioned directly. A couple of other issues too - feel free to PM me if you want more info.
Hey - I second what Natation said about waiting lists. When my eldest was expected I wasn't aware you needed to sign up with creches soooo early and I was on several waiting lists all of which seemed a bit uncertain when I signed up and mostly said they wouldn't have had space until after Christmas when he would have been nearly 6 months. However I got a call from 3 (one in my road and one very nice dutch one near my work) all of which had a space for him from 3 months in the end.
As it happens after a week at the creche in my road DS got very sick and couldn't go back - but that was because he has an immunity disorder and when he was small his system couldn't cope with the level of infection in a creche and the hospital told us he had to be minded at home. It wasn't that I was unhappy with the creche.
I recently went to look at KFW for DS2 because I thought the nanny was going to leave and that we might need an alternative quickly and whilst I thought it was ok, I didn't think it was any better than the 3 creches I chose for DS1 that were far cheaper. Also they said they would have a place for us no problem whenever we wanted to start.
BTW I went to look at about 10 for DS1 and there are pretty big variances between them I thought so worth having a look around even if they say initially they haven't space. The big thing for me other than how interested the workers seemed in the kids was whether they would take the children outside in nice weather. I didn't like the idea of kids shut up inside with the sun shining. Some of the KFW creches do open up, the one in my road did, and I found a lovely one in WSP that had a really nice garden and play equipment (although they never had a space for us).
So whilst I am myself keen on having things sorted out in your position I would ask to go and look at some of the other creches and see if you can get on a waiting list if you like them. The creches don't have to be helpful and accommodating as they are so oversubscribed, but if you insist a little you can get lucky. And as natation says, you don't have to take the places up even if they become vacant but at least you have some choices.
Good luck with the search.
I have a place in KFW leman from September 2012, but think I will opt to keep our nanny instead. Out of interest, what did you decide BestImitation? I have not informed the crèche of my decision yet, so not sure what the penalty will be. I have to dig out the contract. I remember it was very harsh and unfair, but they put me under a lot of pressure to sign it a year ago! Would love to know what you ended up doing. My baby will also be six months old in Sept 2012.
For those of you looking for a creche in Auderghem, Brussels I would like to recommend a new comer in town and god knows we need more 'seats' for our little ones as Brussels is seriously lacking of space with makes our quest miserable. I know well the girl who runs this small nursery in a beautiful house with incredible garden. I think they provide only organic food. Anyway have a look for yourself www.petitbouh.com I recommend that private nursery warmly for the staff in particular. J
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