From your child's 1st birthday, you have the right to a place in a daycare center (Kita)*. There are different forms of day care.
- Day nursery (1 - 3 years)
- Kindergarten (1 - 6 years or 3 - 6 years)
- Regular kindergarten
- Confessional kindergartens
- multilingual kindergartens
- Child day care (day mother or day father) in small groups (0 - 3 years)
Day care centers are offered by state institutions, associations, churches or private institutions. They are an important part of early education. The children are cared for and learn important skills for the rest of their lives. And they build up contacts with their peers. The children are cared for by educators. They work with a pedagogical concept.
*You can also give your child to a daycare center before his or her first birthday. Usually, however, the right to a place in a daycare center does not apply until the child reaches the age of 1.
Yes. All parents have the right to have their child cared for in a daycare center from the child's 1st birthday. As a rule, the daycare covers 5 - 7 hours per day. In exceptional cases, e.g. if you work longer hours, the child can be in daycare for a longer time.
At the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) you will receive information on: the right to a daycare place, daycare centers in your area and registration.
*In Saxony-Anhalt, the right for a daycare place already applies from birth.
** In some federal states and municipalities, a daycare voucher (Kita-Gutschein) must be applied for at the youth welfare office (Jugendamt).
The "Kita-Gutschein" concept only exists in a few cities. For example, in Berlin, Hamburg, Mannheim or Erfurt. There, a Kita-Gutschein must be applied for in order to obtain a place in a daycare center.
The Kita-Gutschein works like this:
You apply for the Kita-Gutschein at your responsible youth welfare office (Jugendamt). There, it is defined how many hours of daycare your child needs. Usually between 5 - 7 hours. You can then use the voucher to apply for a place at a daycare center. However, only if there is a free place. Therefore, you often have to ask several daycare centers.
Requirements for the Kita voucher
- You are the legal guardian
- Consent of both parents
- Residence in a city with a daycare voucher system
- Submit the application in time (at the earliest 9 months, at the latest 2 months before your child is to go to the Kita)
- Your child is at least 8 weeks old
Documents for the application of a Kita-Gutschein
- Application form (online or at the youth welfare office)
- Signature of both parents, or power of attorney
- Copy of identification (identity card or passport)
- Proof of residence (identity card or registration certificate)
- Birth certificate of the child (copy)
Many parents are looking for a daycare center for their child. That is why the search for a daycare center can be difficult sometimes. You have a right to a place at a daycare center near you. But you are not always free to choose the daycare center. You can only register your child if there is a free place. Sometimes the waiting lists are long. That is why it is important to start looking early. You can get help with your search from your local youth welfare office (Jugendamt). You can find your local youth welfare office here: https://www.jugendaemter.com/jugendaemter-in-deutschland/.
General procedure: Go to the responsible youth welfare office (Jugendamt). There you will get all the important information about registration and a list of daycare centers in your area. Ask the daycare centers when you can visit them. If you like a daycare center, ask if there are free places. Either you can register your child immediately (care contract) or you have to wait. Most of the time, however, you will have to wait. Then ask to be put on their waiting list. Ask the staff at the daycare centers about the further procedure.
The kindergarten usually starts in August or September. Places are usually allocated at the beginning of the year, between February and April.
Berlin: In Berlin, you need a Kita-Gutschein (daycare voucher). You have to apply for it at the responsible youth welfare office (Jugendamt) in order to search for a daycare center (fill in the application form on site or online, then print it out and send it by mail). With this voucher you can search for a daycare. Ask at daycare centers in your area if there are free places. Or put your name on the waiting list. Look at several daycare centers. Apply to several daycare centers in your area. If you get a place, inform the other daycare centers, too.
Example: Your child is 3 months old. When it turns one year old, it should go to the Kita. You can already apply for the Kita voucher. Then go to the daycare centers in your area and contact them. Sign up for the waiting list with a start date in 9 months. You will be informed if your child has been given a place.
Saxony-Anhalt: In Saxony-Anhalt, the right to daycare already applies from birth. In some cities (e.g. Magdeburg and Halle), the search for a daycare place is done online. You have to register with the parent portal. There, you then enter three desired daycare centers. It is best to look at the daycare centers beforehand. If there is a free place, you will receive a message. In other municipalities, you have to apply for a Kita place using a form. Ask for advice at the responsible authority (Youth Welfare Office/ Jugendamt).
The costs of the daycare center vary depending on the federal state, municipality and daycare center. The parents' income can also play a role. In some federal states, parents no longer have to pay anything at all for daycare, except for lunch and day trips.
In Berlin, daycare centers are free for all children. For lunch, parents only have to pay €23 a month. Extra costs may apply for day trips. With a Berlinpass, lunches and day trips are also free. Parents receive a Berlinpass BuT (education and participation) if they receive the following support: Arbeitslosengeld II, Sozialhilfe, Sozialgeld, Kinderzuschlag, Wohngeld oder Leistungen nach dem Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz.
In Saxony-Anhalt, the costs for daycare centers are set by the municipality. They vary greatly in some cases. If you have several children, the following regulations apply: Is one child in daycare and one child in after-school care? Then you only pay for the after-school care. Are two of your children in daycare? Then you only pay the costs for the elder child. You can be exempt from the costs if you receive the following support: Arbeitslosengeld II, Sozialhilfe, Sozialgeld, Kinderzuschlag, Wohngeld oder Leistungen nach dem Asylbewerberleistungsgesetz. Please contact the Youth Welfare Office or the Parental Contribution Office for further help.
All children are guaranteed a place in a daycare center from the age of 1 at the latest. The state or local authorities must provide you with a daycare place. Did you apply for a daycare place in time, but did not get a place? Then file an appeal.
You need the rejection from the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) that there is no daycare place for your child. Then you must file an objection. The letter from the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) tells you how to do this.
If the objection is rejected, you can file a complaint with the administrative court. Get advice on this beforehand.
There are also alternatives to daycare. For example, day mothers/day fathers. However, they do not have the same qualifications as educators in a daycare center.
The first time at the daycare center can be difficult for your child. Everything is new and there are many new people and children. Take enough time. Settling in takes around 2 - 4 weeks.
During the first few days, you will come to the daycare center with your child. You stay there with your child for a few hours. Your child can look around and gets used to the environment. Then you go home with your child.
You come to the daycare regularly. When your child feels comfortable, leave him or her alone for a few minutes. Say goodbye. And wait in another room. Your child can play then and learns to trust.
If your child cries, comfort him or her. This is normal. Every child is different. Some children adjust quickly to the new environment, others need more time.
After a few days, it usually gets better. You can leave the daycare cente for a few hours. Always stay available with your cell phone. A familiar snuggle animal can help your child. Talk to the educators. They will help you. If the settling-in does not work, try it with the other parent, if possible.
Children go to daycare until they are 6 years old. Then they start school. The transition can be difficult for children. School is a new environment. And there are many new rules.
Kita prepares children for school. The older children learn new things. For example, they sing and learn new words. Or they do crafts and are creative. They learn to sit quietly.
Is the child ready for school? Many parents have this question. Talk to the educators. They will give an expert opinion about your child. The child should have certain skills. These are important for school.
That is why there is a medical check-up. The check-up is called „Einschulungsuntersuchung“and is compulsory. It examines whether the child can easily see, hear, speak and move. Ask at the daycare center which doctor in your area does the examination. Bring your child's yellow health record book and vaccination booklet with you.
If your child is healthy and well developed, he or she can start school. If your child needs more time, he or she can go to kindergarten for another year. Some children have extra support needs. Do not take it as criticism. Every child develops at a different rate. Give your child special support in this area.