Another door slams shut

Good Morning … yes, thank you for seeing me ….

Yes, that’s right, I was here a year ago requesting advice on child-care as all the Kindergartens in this area were full

Yes, I now have a place, thank you – but from this coming September, not before.

Where is the problem? I actually have a couple of problems with this, Herr S. Firstly, my child has been ready for Kindergarten mentally and in his overall development since the summer of last year. There are other children currently occupying places from 2 years old. My child was 3 in February this year and legally I have a right to a Kindergarten place from this 3rd birthday. In Haag, every Kindergarten is full until September. This means he will have another 6 months at home. My biggest problem, with this, however and the reason I am actually here, is the fact that I am a single mother, running my own business and whilst he’s in the house and around me, I cannot work….

Sorry? ….

Erm, well yes, that is the point, … I would very much like to send him to a child-minder …. no please, let me finish my sentence … I would VERY much like to send him to a child-minder, but, per hour, it would cost me double that which it would cost me to send him to Kindergarten, had I a place….

What ‘would I like’ you to do?? … well given that Haag cannot supply me a place in any one of its 4 Kindergartens, I would like to submit a request for compensation for the extra I am being obliged to pay in individual child-minding costs. Apparently this is standard procedure and I would like to fill out one of your forms please.

No, I am not on social benefit.

Forgive me for sounding abrupt, but no, I do not want to sign on to social benefit! …  I want to work! I have my own business and can earn enough money to keep us, but the problem is the time … I don’t have time because my child is at home 3 days a week. I currently work evenings, nights & weekends to earn our keep….

Herr S, I do not want to sign on to social benefit! I shouldn’t have to! If my child was in Kindergarten I could work and could earn enough to go on holiday twice a year, never mind just exist! That is the issue here, not that I am unemployed with no prospects!

I don’t understand. Are you not supposed to be trying to get people off social welfare? I feel like I’m actually being pushed into it here!

…. Why have I come to you? Because you are the manager of the administration here in Haag responsible for the allocation of Kindergarten places…..

… yes, of course I have taken this up with the Kindergartens! I have been on the waiting list since September last year for 3 out of 4 of them. The fourth wouldn’t even add me as their list was already too long. This cannot be right.

Of course I understand, that from the Kindergartens’ perspective, if they are full, there is nothing they can do, but then, in that case, there must be something you can do to help me bridge the gap … my child has a legal right to a place!

No, Herr S, with all due respect I do not want to go downstairs and talk to someone else, you are the manager of this administration and I have been sent here by your colleagues as you are the only one who can make decisions about compensatory help.

Herr S, if the law in Germany states ‘every child has a legal right to a place from their 3rd birthday’, how can you be saying there is nothing that can be done to help me. The director of the Haag playgroup told me last week that you had personally offered exactly this type of compensation to a single mother at the beginning of the year. I am only asking for 2euros per hour, to cover me until September to allow me time to work. In the larger scheme of things this is very, very little. I could be taking over 1500 euros per month from the state on social benefit, but I am not … I am struggling and have reduced my outgoings to the barest minimum possible to avoid doing this, so, really, asking you for 50euros per month is not that much.

I don’t understand what you mean by ‘if I don’t want to help myself then you can’t help me’. I have spent the last 3 years trying to help myself and put myself back into society as a respectable working mother. Are you saying I should just throw in everything I have worked so hard for and sign myself into the benefit rut, just so I can survive the next six months??

Well Herr S, that has answered my question: it would appear that by trying to do the right thing by the state, work my butt off and survive as an independent citizen, I have reduced myself to an object of public ridicule.

I thank you very much for your time.


Addendum: An hour later I returned to the playgroup to pick up my son. I bumped into a mother I had not seen for a while and we exchanged pleasantries. As I we parted in the usual flurry of hyped up kids, I shot a quick ‘See you Tuesday’ over my shoulder, at which point she turned back saying .. no, today is A’s last day here! Surprised, I asked if they were moving away. No, she replied, she had taken up one of the free places in the Kindergarten around the corner from me and A would start on Monday ….

The four dots above, signify a hefty verbal MJM explosion followed by 30 mins of pure rant. Apparently the Kindergarten in question has had places available in two different groups since Christmas. I have been in twice since then to be told (despite being ‘Number one on the list’) that there was absolutely nothing available and no chance now until September…. and btw please don’t call us we’ll call you. In my frustration I waived my reservation and went elsewhere where I now have the secure place … from September, when L could have been happily ensconced since Jan 1.

I must have been a very, very bad person in a past life.

This entry was posted in Anger, Germany, Kids, Life Stuff, Parenting, Single Mum, Single parenthood, Single Working Parent, Starting out as a single working parent, Work-Life Balance and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Another door slams shut

  1. karen says:

    Sounds like the German system is just as ridiculous as in the UK ! What is it with bureaucracy? They will gladly pay out for state benefit but not support hard working mums. So sorry to hear about your struggle. Brings back memories from when my eldest was little and I was in the same boat as you. Hope you get something sorted. xx

    • That really is the way it is at the moment : 2 steps forward and 5 back. I’ll get there, but Jaysus they don’t make it easy for us!! Thanks for the supportive comment Karen. Really appreciated.x

  2. How FRUSTRATING and how ridiculous. I have steam coming out of my ears for you. Is there no-one else you can approach? I don’t know how things work in Germany but do you have a local parliamentary representative you can go to? Or send this to a national newspaper? It is SO well written.

  3. JulieB says:

    Sounds almost like something out of Kafka when you recount it like that – must be incredibly frustrating, I completely understand your anger. Good luck!

  4. dadwhowrites says:

    Well, Kafka was sketching from life when it came to Germanic bureaucracy. How utterly bloody frustrating – hope you extract something from them soon.

  5. So frustrating for you! I really struggle to understand why the authorities seem so keen on getting people onto benefits, rather than supporting those who want to work and pay their own way.

    As has already been said, if they are failing to fulfil their legal obligations, is there a higher authority or ombudsman who you can report them to?

    I hope you get it sorted soon.

  6. mrsljhall says:

    ARGH! How frustrating, sorry that’s not enough, I meant HOW FRUSTRATING! So difficult because if you march in and cause a scene you won’t feel comfortable taking L there anyway. Guess you will need to ‘reapply’ and point out politely that they seem to have accidentally overlooked you when they had a vacany? Good luck xx

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