Well, that was a shocking start to the first half of the year. Yes, it feels like we are coming out of it now, to some extent. The cafes and bars are opening, as are the cinemas and small cultural events. The kids are mostly back in school with a new organisation. For the toddlers and babies, the creche and childcare options are pretty much back to normal. There was a moment when they were reserved uniquely for parents working in the essential services during the lockdown. Working from home requires discipline and few distractions. I imagine many parents will be glad now that childcare opened up again fully. It must have made the work life a bit easier. We have written a few articles recently looking at what has changed over the past few months. For sure there is a ‘new normal’ coming and I think the Dutch will want it to be as ‘normaal’ as possible. I wondered how this would affect the childcare industry, so I asked a childcare group De Kleine Wereld, where they believe that happy children make happy adults.
De Kleine Wereld has organically grown over time to the 16 centres they now run across Amsterdam. There is day care or after school care or a mix of both. Here we are doing Q+A with the lovely team at De Kleine Wereld. The aim is to find out how different services that expats really count on were affected by the lock down. And, what the future brings for these local businesses. This is the continuation of the different articles about how the corona virus and the lock down have affected children and families.
Q1. DKW has been in existence. since 2001. That will be quite a party next year! Can you tell us how it has changed over the years ?
In recent years, much has changed in De Kleine Wereld. So, we have grown enormously, not only in branches and employees, but also in our vision and working method. Growth entails development, so that is certainly something that we have focused on in recent years. What is great about our organization is that despite the enormous growth, it still feels like a small organisation. That’s nice because we know what everyone is good at and where we can find each other.
Q2. How did every one cope during the recent Corona lockdown and how did that affect your services?
During the Covid-19 measures, we immediately set up a team that would steer the measures in the right direction within our organisation. Communication is important, so employees were kept up to date by means of video messages and these were recorded by our director Sabine van der Wiel. It is precisely through a personal approach that there is a positive atmosphere among everyone in the organisation.
With regard to the services we offer within our company, we have complied with the imposed measures from the government. We also provided emergency childcare services to people working in vital professions. For the children who suddenly came home, contact was made by telephone, but also by video calling. There have been child minders reading books on Zoom and handing out craft packages to the doors of their children’s homes.
Q3. What percentage of occupancy were you at the height of the crisis and what special measures were in place for the children of essential workers?
At the peak of the measures, we sometimes had 10 children of parents in vital professions that we received in the day care center. In the beginning, the measures and protocol of the emergency shelter were already communicated to the parents and employees. For example, the parents are not allowed to enter the building. Children had to stay at home in case of illness. The groups themselves were also kept at a distance and children were divided into small groups.
Q4.DKW has a reputation for positive people and environments. Is that a choice that was made since the beginning and if so, can you tell us more ?
I definitely think the founders of the company had a really positive mindset and a vision that ties in with that. If you want to work with children, positivity must also be naturally in you. Always having an optimistic outlook for the future and helping each other is therefore something in our company DNA.
Q5. How you you see the immediate future as we move to your 20th year?
For the coming year, there will be many social changes that we must respond to. What is important to us is that we continue to use the positive attitude that we have always maintained. It is always good to remember the idea for which we are all working towards in the end : Taking care of children in a safe and happy environment.
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Thank you for time answering out questions.