- Education & Work
How to find a Kindergarten in Germany
26 Apr 2022
As a follow-up to our last article on enrolling your kid at a primary school in Germany, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about German kindergartens. Since the 16 states of Germany are responsible for determining their own educational policies, regulations concerning kindergartens and preschools can vary from state to state. However, some key principles and rules apply to the whole of Germany. In contrast to the German school system, sending your kids to kindergarten is not compulsory in Germany. What is important to note, though, is that Germany has established the right to a place in a kindergarten for every child. According to German law, every kid from the age of 1 until the age of compulsory school enrolment (between 5 and 7) has the right to go to a kindergarten. This right entails childcare of at least 20 hours a week, which can go up to 45 hours for children whose parents are working full-time. There is no guarantee to get a place at the closest kindergarten, but the kindergarten must be reachable from your home by public transport in a maximum of 30 minutes and it should not be further away than 5 km. Depending on the state you are living in, you have to pay a monthly fee for the kindergarten or it is entirely paid by the respective state government.
In order to be able to make use of your right to get a place at a kindergarten you need to follow certain procedures that can differ from state to state or city to city. However, the broad structure is usually similar. Hence, we will give you a short overview on the process in Berlin so that you know what to pay attention to, even if you don’t live in the German capital. In Berlin, you need to hand in a request for a so-called kindergarten voucher (Kita-Gutschein) in order to be able to claim your right to institutional childcare. The request can be filed up to 9 months and at least 2 months prior to the desired start date of the pre-schooling. The required documents include identification proof for you and your children as well as proof of your residence and the consent of both the parents or legal guardians. Additional documents are needed if you require more care-taking than usually provided, for instance due to your specific working hours, or if you want to send your kid to a kindergarten already before the first birthday. The application can be handed in online or in paper and is free of cost. Also the kindergarten itself is free of cost in Berlin, you only have to pay a contribution to the lunch provided at the institution.
This process for enrolling your child at a kindergarten only applies to kindergartens and preschools that are run by the city or local municipality but not to the private ones. Whereas in the first case a centralised system is in place, the privately run kindergartens can have their individual regulations. You can refer to this website of the government of Berlin for further information on the process for state-run kindergartens and to this one for some more useful details concerning the situation at private kindergartens. In all of these cases, it is highly advisable to first do your own research regarding the kindergartens that are available in your neighbourhood. For this purpose, you should definitely look for open days (Tag der offenen Tür) that are regularly hosted by the kindergartens in order to reach out to the parents of young kids and inform them about the services provided by the kindergarten. The independent web-portal kindergarten.info also provides a whole range of tips concerning the selection of a kindergarten in Germany. What makes this website particularly useful is that it provides specific information for all the 16 states of Germany as well as some major cities in the country. In this way, you can easily get hold of the information that will be the most relevant to your individual situation.
We hope this article has given you some useful information on kindergartens and preschools in Germany. If there are any further questions, please comment below, connect with others in the New2 FORUM or write to us at [email protected]!
Written by: Ferdinand Schlechta
Cover Photo: Unsplash – Gautam Arora
other photos: Charlein Gracia - Unsplash
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