Childcare in Germany – Kita and Other Options

Do you know how it is when you have small kids in Germany? Everyone kept asking if I had a “Kita” place already once I was pregnant. So, what is a Kita? In this article, you will find everything you need to know about German daycare centers, and also other childcare options in Germany.

Childcare in Germany: What is a Kita?

A Kita, or Kindertagesstätte, is a daycare center that allows small kids to play with other kids of similar age. The kids play under the supervision of trained childcare workers in Germany, who have gone through pedagogical training and are specialized in dealing with young children. A Childcare worker is called Erzieherin (female) or Erzieher (male) in German. 

In Germany, there are different types of daycare centers for children of different ages. For example, nurseries (Kinderkrippe) are for kids under three years old, while kindergartens are for kids from three to six years old. Sometimes, nursery and kindergarten can be in the same house. And some kindergartens also provide after-school care services for young school students. These places are called “Hort” in German.

Therefore, Kita is a very general term for a daycare center. It can mean the nursery, kindergarten or after-school care in Germany.

Nursery (Kinderkrippe) in Germany 

Nurseries in Germany normally accept kids from one to three years old. This is why most mothers in Germany are taking their parental leave for one year. They stay at home and take care of their kids for the first year. Afterward, they go back to work and put their kids in the nurseries when they are one year old. Note that some nurseries (especially the private ones) accept kids who are six or nine months old already. Every nursery has different rules and you need to check with them individually for the acceptance requirement.

The opening hours of the nurseries can be very different. Some of them offer only half-day services, while others offer full-day. Most of them open between 7 or 8 am. For a half-day nursery, you usually need to pick up your kid around noon time. For a full-day nursery, they are mostly open until 4 to 5 pm. Late hours are rare but if you are in a big city like Munich, you may find a private nursery which opens until 6 or even 7 pm.

Note that most nurseries are German-speaking, except the international ones.

In the nurseries, kids can play together with other kids under supervision. Nurseries usually have a playground outside so that kids can play outdoors as well. For a full-day nursery, it normally includes lunch and nap time in the afternoon.

It is not mandatory to put your kids in a nursery. But it is good if you want to go back to work or have some private time. In my case, I put my kid to the nursery once she turned one year old. So, I took one year of parental leave and went back to work full-time afterward.

Read more: Having a baby in Germany – From pregnancy to postnatal care

Kindergarten in Germany

Kindergarten is also a preschool in Germany. It is for kids who are between three to six years old. The opening hour is very similar to a nursery. It can be either half-day or full-day. Most kindergartens are German-speaking, except the international ones.

Kindergartens provide an opportunity for kids to interact with other kids of similar ages. Kids can learn through active play, which satisfies their curiosity and gives them room for creativity. It also helps with their language, physical and social skills. There are different activities in kindergartens like painting, gymnastics, singing, handicrafts, story-telling, etc. Kids may also go on local trips, e.g. visiting the zoo or old people’s home. They learn about discipline, how to solve conflicts with other kids and to be independent of their parents. They also play outdoors and celebrate local festivals together. 

Preschool (Vorschule) in Germany

Kindergarten is not mandatory in Germany. However, I find it good for kids to be in kindergartens so that they can learn all the above skills which are difficult to be offered by a stay-at-home mom. Kindergarten is also a good way to prepare your kid for school. The final year in a kindergarten is called preschool in Germany. The kids are five years old at this time and they normally have to go to school in the following year. The kindergartens will teach these kids different skills they need for attending school. For example, they will go to visit schools and learn how to catch a bus, etc.

Kids do not learn reading and writing in Kindergartens

When I was in kindergarten in Hong Kong, I was learning to write Chinese and English already. I was also having exams and grades in Kindergarten. Note that this is not the case in Germany. Kids learn to read and write when they go to school, but not in kindergarten. Kids in kindergartens are supposed to learn by playing and self-directed exploration.

I found it very shocking when I knew at first that children only start learning in Germany when they are six years old. This is considered as way too late in Hong Kong! Most Chinese people believe that the earlier a kid starts learning, the better he will be. However, now I like this German system better. I do not find that Chinese students are better than German students later in life, even though Chinese students start learning earlier. I think people should just be more chilled and give their kids a more relaxing childhood.

After-school care (Hort) in Germany

Going to school is mandatory in Germany. Children normally go to school when they are around six to seven years old. Schools start in the September time frame. Most of the schools are open at around 8 am until noontime. But it can also vary based on individual schools or states. 

If both parents are working full time, they can put their kids to after-school care in Germany. These services are either organized by the school on-site, or by a daycare center in the afternoon.

The service hour for after-school care is similar to the daycare centers, which normally close between 4 to 5 pm.

Read also: 13 Tips for Working From Home with a Toddler

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Childcare in Germany: How much does it cost to send your kid to a daycare center?

The price of attending a daycare center in Germany varies greatly depending on the regions. In some states, e.g. Berlin, daycare centers are subsidized by the state and free of charge. Parents only need to pay a small amount for food, drink and administration fees. In some other states, daycare centers are not free. That is why the cost of daycare centers can be very different across the country. The price can range from zero to several hundred Euro per month.

Below are some other factors which may determine your cost:

The number of hours booked:

Normally kids go to daycare center five days a week. You can usually put your kids there for the morning, and choose to pick them up again at noon, or later in the afternoon.

Family income:

Your daycare center may have a price schedule depending on your income. The more you earn, the higher the price you will have to pay.

The number of siblings:

Some daycare centers charge a lower price if your kid already has a sibling in the daycare centers.

Public or private daycare centers:

It can be more expensive if you send your kids to a private daycare center, especially if it is a bilingual one. To give you an example, a bilingual kindergarten in Munich can easily cost 1,000 Euro per month, while you only have to pay 100-200 Euro monthly for a full-time public kindergarten subsidized by the state.

Nursery or Kindergarten:

In some states, the price for nursery and kindergarten can be quite different. For example, in Bavaria, a full-day nursery place costs me around 550 EUR monthly, while I am paying around 150 Euro per month for a full-day public kindergarten place.

One good thing is that you can claim tax on your childcare expenses in Germany. It means that part of the cost you pay for the daycare centers is tax-deductible.

Read more: Cost of living in Germany – How to save money?

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Childcare in Germany: Different types of daycare center (Kita)

A daycare center can be run by different organizations

A daycare center can be run by the local city, by a private organization, by parents or by a religious institution like a church. 

Public daycare center

These are daycare centers run by the local city. They are usually cheaper than private daycare centers.

Private or international daycare center

These are daycare centers run by private organizations. You may find private international daycare centers in big cities that are bilingual. Many of these international kindergartens in Germany have German-native and English-native childcare workers so that your kids can learn both languages.

Parent initiative daycare center (Elterninitiative)

These are daycare centers that are run by the parents, whose kids also attend the same daycare centers. The parents will employ childcare workers but as a parent, you are supposed to actively participate in the operation and maintenance of the daycare center. For example, we visited one of these daycare centers, where they require parents to also help with the maintenance of the facilities in the daycare center. Different tasks are shared among the parents, e.g. grocery shopping, gardening, cleaning, organizing events, laundry, repairing, etc. 

The benefits are that the parents are very closed to each other. They often work together and also hang out with each other in different events. We did not choose this parent initiative daycare center in the end as both my husband and I work full-time and we cannot afford the extra work we would have to put into this daycare center. However, it can be good for parents who work part-time or for a stay-at-home mom.

Daycare center run by a religious institution

These are daycare centers run by religious institutions like churches. They usually accept also kids without a religious background. Attending these daycare centers mean that your kid will be involved in some church activities such as praying or regular visits to churches. 

Read more: Water in Germany: Dealing with hard water

Different daycare centers can have different pedagogical concepts 

Here are some examples:

Waldorf daycare center

Waldorf is a pedagogical concept which focuses a lot on the natural environment. Kids are encouraged to go outdoors a lot regardless of the weather. For example, we visited a Waldorf kindergarten a while ago. Kids there spend hours playing outside every day. They also go for breakfast once a week next to a river, regardless of the weather.

Montessori daycare center

Montessori is a pedagogical concept that uses a child-centered approach. Kids are given the freedom to choose from a range of activities to learn. They are encouraged to learn concepts from working with materials rather than by direct instruction. For example, children in a Montessori daycare center can decide what they want to play, instead of following a fixed daily schedule.

Children with disabilities

Children with disabilities can go to integrative daycare centers (Integrativer Kindergarten). These are normal daycare centers that reserve a few places for kids with disabilities. In these daycare centers, children with disabilities will be taken care of together with other normal children. They can play together, which is a good way for kids with disabilities to integrate.

Read more: Marriage in Germany – German wedding traditions

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Childcare in Germany: Settling-in period (Eingewöhnungsphase)

The first time when I heard about the settling-in period, I was very shocked about this concept. Basically, before you can put your kid in a daycare center, your kid needs to go through a settling-in period so that he can start slowly. This period usually ranges from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on how fast your kid can adapt.

The settling-in period aims to give kids time to adapt to the new environment. When kids go to daycare centers, it can be a big change for them. They may be at home with their mommies all day long before. And now, they have to be separated from their mommies and stay in a new environment for hours daily. To help them to adapt to this big change, the kids should start with only one to two hours daily in the daycare center, and gradually increase the hours to a full day. 

How does it work?

As a parent, you need to bring your kid to the daycare center. You may stay with your kid there for an hour or so, in the first few days. Afterward, you will try your first separation with your kid. Your kid will play with the others, while you wait in a separate room, in case he needs you. If everything works well, your kid can stay longer and longer in the daycare center, while you can wait at home. In case he needs you, the daycare center will call you and you have to pick up your kid on short notice. 

For some daycare centers, you can end the settling-in period pretty fast (like two weeks) if your kid adapts well. For some others, even though your kid has no issue staying there, they will still require a minimum of 4 weeks’ settling-in period. This is because they believe that settling-in too fast is not good for the kids and the kids may not like to go to the daycare center later on.

Therefore, with the settling-in period, you need to plan your time accordingly. Especially if you want to go back to work, you need to plan additionally a few weeks vacation before starting to work in order to take care of the settling-in period.

Settling-in period: Good or bad?

On one hand, I like this concept that we don’t overload our kids with a big change. On the other hand, four to eight weeks of a settling-in period is just way too long and it is hard for parents to plan especially if both parents are working full time. 

The settling-in period would be a completely crazy concept if I tell anyone in my hometown Hong Kong. There is nothing like this in Hong Kong. Normally you just leave your kid. If your kid cries, then he cries. He will stop crying at some point in time. Then he is settled. This is how it works in Hong Kong as everybody needs to work and we don’t have the luxury to set aside one or two months for a settling-in period.

Read more: 9 ways to earn money in Germany as a student

Childcare in Germany: What do you need to bring to the daycare center?

You will need to show your child’s medical record (Untersuchungsheft) and vaccination booklet (Impfpass) before he gets accepted in a daycare center. This is to make sure that your kid is vaccinated and thus protect the health of the other kids.

Your daycare center will usually provide you a list of items that you should bring to the center. In general, your kid will need his indoor slippers, diapers, wet wipes, some clothes for changing, his comfort object like a pacifier, his splash pants, and boots for outdoor activities, etc. 

In the summer, you will also need to bring some sun cream, a summer hat and mosquito spray. In the winter, you will need to bring his winter jacket, a warm hat, thick shoes, scarf, hand gloves, etc.

Depending on the need, you may also want to bring some moisturizing cream in case your kid has dry skin.

Read more: Decoding your Reference Letter in Germany (Arbeitszeugnis)

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Childcare in Germany: How to decide which daycare center to go to?

There are different factors you may want to consider before choosing your daycare center.

Location:

In my opinion, it is best to have your daycare center close to your home. Some people choose to have a daycare center close to their workplace. While it is possible, don’t underestimate how much more sick leave you may need to take once you have kids. If you take sick leave, someone else will have to bring your kid to the daycare center closed to your workplace (which may not be closed to your home). Besides, your kids are going to make friends with other kids in the daycare center. And their friends may not live necessarily close to your home.

Child to childcare worker ratio:

In the nursery of my daughter, there are three childcare workers in a group with 12 kids. I heard that in some other nurseries, the ratio can be lower. A lower ratio means that the childcare workers can be more customized to your child’s needs. Your child may also get sick less often as there are fewer kids in the group.

Language:

If language is your focus, you may want to choose a private bilingual daycare center. Otherwise, your kid will only learn German.

Outdoor activities:

Kids need to play outdoors. How big are the garden and playground at the daycare center? What are the facilities in the playground? How much time per day will your kid spend outside?

Opening hours:

This is especially important if both parents are working full time. Does the opening hour of the daycare center fit your work schedule? For example, if the daycare center closes at 5 pm, you will probably need to pick up your kid 15 minutes beforehand. Depending on how far your workplace is from the daycare center, you may need to leave your work at 4 pm already. Don’t underestimate the time you need to spend on traffic during this time. Everybody is trying to pick up their kids around those times!

Food:

Does the daycare center have their own kitchen? Or do they feed kids with delivered food? Do they take care of the dietary requirement of your kids? How healthy and diversified is the food that they are serving? Or does your kid have to bring his own food?

Facilities:

What does the environment of the daycare center look like? Is it spacious? Is everything childproof and safe? Are the facilities new or old?

Parents’ involvement:

How does the daycare center communicate with the parents? Do they have regular parents’ evening (Elternabend) which provides updates about the operation of the daycare center? Do they have regular meetings (Elterngespräch) and development discussion with parents (Entwicklungsgespräch), where they share their observation of your kid’s behavior and development?

Staff:

How is the staff at the daycare center? Are they friendly and qualified for childcare? 

Religion:

Your kid may be involved in religious activities in a daycare center run by a religious institution, e.g. visiting churches or praying before a meal. Do you agree with these activities?

Daily schedule:

How does the day in a daycare center look like? Can your kid choose what activities he can do? Or is there a fixed schedule when and what he can do?

Holiday schedule:

This is especially important if both parents are working full time. If you do not have support or family living nearby, it means that you may have to take a vacation when your daycare center is closed. 

Settling-in period (Eingewöhnungsphase):

How does the daycare center handle the settling-in period? How much time do you need to plan for the settling-in period and does it fit your time schedule?

Education concept:

As mentioned before, there are different kinds of daycare centers like Waldorf or Montessori. Do you agree with these concepts?

Interaction with kids:

How does the staff handle the kids? Do they design activities and play together with the kids? How do they discipline the kids?

Development of the kids:

How does the daycare center foster the mental, emotional and social development of your kids? Are they doing any projects together with the kids in the daycare center? Do kids of different ages play together or separately? Are the kids going on any excursion, e.g. to the zoo or old people’s home, etc.? 

Does the daycare center include nursery, kindergarten and after-school care?

Some daycare centers include nursery, kindergarten and after-school care all together in one house. It is good because you don’t have to worry every few years to look for places again in another daycare center. Once your kid is accepted in the nursery, he (and also his siblings later on) will likely be accepted in the same kindergarten and after-school care. You will have much less worry later on, especially when it is very competitive to get a place in a big city.

Get to know your daycare center

A lot of the daycare centers have an open door day during the year. You can usually find the date on their website, or the website of your city. During the open door day, you have the chance to visit the daycare center and ask any questions you have. 

Some private daycare centers may not have an open door day. In that case, you can call there to make an appointment to visit the daycare center.

Another way to know more about the daycare centers before choosing is to talk with other parents about their experience with the daycare centers.

Read more: How to find English speaking jobs in Germany?

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Childcare in Germany: How to find a daycare center in Germany?

For public daycare centers, you can usually find them on your local city’s website. In some cities, you can apply for a place at the Youth Welfare Center (Jugendamt). They will organize and allocate places for all the public daycare centers in the area. In some other cities, you may have to apply directly at the daycare centers. The daycare centers usually have a registration day where you can come and register your kid for a place. You should check directly with your Youth Welfare Center or the daycare centers on the application process.

For the private ones, you can find them on the internet, or you can ask your friends, neighbors or colleagues in your area. You will usually have to go there and register directly. Some may accept registration by submitting an online application form. You should check the website of the daycare center, or just call them to ask about the application procedure.

Some companies may offer nurseries or kindergarten directly at the workplace, or they have a partnership with daycare centers nearby to give preference to the kids of their employees. It may be one factor you should consider when looking for a job in Germany.

As said before, it can be very competitive to get a place in a daycare center, especially in the big cities. Therefore, it is recommended to register at least a few daycare centers to increase your chance. 

Read more: Salary in Germany: Are you getting paid enough?

Childcare in Germany: When should you register your kid for a spot in the daycare center?

If you want to get a place in a private daycare center, you should register your kid as early as possible, i.e. once you know that you are pregnant. This is especially important in big cities, where it is very competitive to get a place in a daycare center.

In some cities, you can only apply for a spot in the public daycare center after your kid is born. In that case, you will usually need to apply to the Youth Welfare Center once after birth. You should check in your city and get yourself familiar with the procedure so that you are not missing any deadline. 

Spots are usually available in September

In many daycare centers, they have spots available in September every year. It is because the school year starts in September in Germany. It means that if your kid is born in April 2020, it is unlikely to get a spot in April 2021, but rather in Sept 2021. You should plan your parental leave accordingly to make sure those months are covered in case no daycare place is available before September.

Note that it is not always the case. If you are lucky, you may also get a spot during the year. For example, if other kids drop out of the daycare center during the year. In my case, my first kid was born in January. And I did manage to find a spot in a private nursery starting January.

Signing the contract

If you get a spot at the daycare center, you will need to sign a contract that includes all the details like start date, holiday schedule, what to do with sick days, etc. You will also need to specify how many hours you are going to book at the daycare center.

Waiting list

If you do not get a spot at your desired daycare center, they will put you on a waiting list. As long as a place is free, you will be able to get the spot later. If they have a long waiting list, you may need to wait for another year. That’s why it is important to apply to as many daycare centers as possible if you live in a big city.

Read more: Private vs Public Health Insurance: What is Better for Expats in Germany?

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Childcare in Germany: Acceptance criteria from the daycare center

Since it is very competitive to get a spot at the daycare centers, many people are curious about the acceptance criteria.

In general, many daycare centers based their admission decision on the below factors.

Full-day or half-day booking

The number of hours you book in the daycare center may be one of the acceptance criteria. Daycare centers in Germany have childcare workers who work full-time or part-time. So, they will accept kids who book full-day or half-day in the daycare centers based on the availability of their childcare workers.

Religion

Though it may not be always the case, if a daycare center is run by a religious institution like a church, they may prefer kids with the same religion. 

Are both parents working full-time?

There may be a higher chance to get a spot at the daycare centers in Germany if both parents are working full-time, because these parents have a more urgent need for childcare support.

Single parents

Single parents in Germany are usually preferred as they have a more urgent need for childcare support.

Siblings

Your kid will usually have a higher chance to get a spot at the daycare center, if his sibling is already at the same daycare center.

Your home address

Daycare centers usually prefer kids who live in the same area. Some daycare centers accept kids from another city (they call them guest kids). But most public daycare centers do not accept guest kids at all. Even if you apply for a daycare center in your city, they may prefer kids who live nearby their area first.

Kids with disabilities

Kids with special needs in Germany are usually preferred as these families have a more urgent need for childcare support.

Age of the kids

You may have a higher chance to get a place at the kindergarten if your kid is older. It is because many daycare centers believe that older kids are more ready for kindergarten. It means that a kid who was born in March will have a higher chance to get a place than a kid who was born in November (as the school year starts in September). 

If your kid is five years old, he will also have a higher chance to get a preschool place at the kindergarten as a preparation for going to school in the following year.

Application time

With all other factors being equal, daycare centers may base their decision on a first come first serve basis. That is why you should apply as soon as possible.

Parents’ involvement

This is mostly for parent initiative daycare centers. Parents are required to contribute a certain amount of hours in the year. These daycare centers will usually conduct interviews with the parents to make sure they are aligned with the amount of workload.

Read more: How to learn German: My 10 fun ways

Childcare in Germany: Social benefit in Germany

Compared to my home town Hong Kong, the German government provides a lot of social support for families:

  • Child benefit (Kindergeld) where you get more than 200 EUR per month for each kid
  • Parental allowance (Elterngeld) where you get up to 1800 EUR per month during your first-year parental leave
  • Long parental leave (Elternzeit) where you can keep your job position while on leave for up to three years
  • Long maternity leave (Mutterschutz): six weeks before and eight weeks after birth with full salary

For more details on each of the above benefit, please refer to: Having a baby in Germany – From pregnancy to postnatal care

Depending on the state in Germany, there are also different kinds of childcare support. For example, 

  • There is a family benefit (Familiengeld) in Bavaria of 250 EUR monthly per kid between his first and third birthday.
  • In some states like Berlin, daycare centers are subsidized by the state and are free of charge
  • In some states like Hamburg, you can apply for a daycare voucher (Kita Gutschein) based on your income. You can use these vouchers to pay for the daycare centers.

So, it is important to check in your state what kind of benefits they offer and make good use of them.

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Childcare in Germany: What should I do if I don’t get a place?

Traditionally, women in Germany were discouraged to go back to work after having their babies. You can see this by looking at the short school day, long maternity leave, free public insurance coverage for dependent spouse and family members, etc. All these policies encourage women to stay at home and take care of their kids. In Bavaria where we live, this thinking is even stronger. When I talked with my mother-in-law, she told me that in her time, a woman needed to show her potential employer an approval from her husband, if she wanted to work. Can you believe this? It was not that long time ago!

However, Germany was facing problems like low fertility rate and labor shortage in the 2000s. Therefore, the government started to invest in daycare centers to support women to go back to work after having kids. 

Your city is legally required to provide your kid a spot in a daycare center

Since 2013, every kid older than one year is legally entitled to a spot in a daycare center. If you do not get a place at any daycare center, the first thing you should do is to talk with your city. If that doesn’t work, you should consult a lawyer and sue your city, because your city is legally required to provide the spot. This decision came after three mothers suing the authorities for not creating spots at daycare centers required by the 2013 ruling.

The city will either need to find a spot for you, or compensate your lost earnings because you cannot go to work without a spot at the daycare center. This law is to give women the right to sue and the possibility to work again after giving birth, which can contribute to the economic gain in Germany.

This happened to my friend who didn’t get a spot at the kindergarten last year, even though she had a job. She went to talk to the city on this matter and was allocated to a spot at another kindergarten afterward. So, talking to your city will be the first step before bringing in your lawyer.

That is why it is important to have a law protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) so that you don’t have to worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. You can use this website to compare the price of different law protection insurance. For more details on this insurance, you can refer to: Insurance in Germany – Which one do you need?

In case you need a lawyer…

You can use the online service by Yourxpert to get a free online initial assessment from a lawyer. Simply write your question below. The initial assessment or recommendation is free of charge. If you decide to take further actions, you will get a non-binding offer with the price and you can decide if you want to take the offer.

If you prefer to contact a lawyer directly by writing a message, by phone or by chat, you can find the prices for different lawyers here.

Other childcare options in Germany

Besides putting your kid to a daycare center, below are other childcare options in Germany.

Childminders (Tagesmutter)

A childminder can be a good alternative to a nursery. Childminders in Germany offer childcare services at their home. They normally accept kids from infant to three years old. Their opening time can be more flexible than a daycare center, as it depends on the childminders. They normally work alone with a few kids at home, so you should make sure you have a good feeling with that person and her home environment. 

Childminders need to be certified by the Youth Welfare Center (Jugendamt). You should apply to your Youth Welfare Center if you are interested.

Cost 

Their price can be quite similar to that of a daycare center. For example, it costs around 500 EUR monthly for a full-day childminder in our small town closed to Munich. 

Pros and cons

The advantage of putting your kid to a childminder is that he will be in a smaller group comparing to a daycare center. It also means that he may get sick less often as he does not have contact with many other kids.

A disadvantage is that since the childminder is based at home, it may not have as many infrastructures as in a daycare center. A daycare center is more spacious with more kid-friendly facilities.

Au pair

Au pairs are usually young people from another country who want to come to Germany to learn the language or culture. They usually do not have a childcare qualification. They will live with you and be part of a family member for around six to twelve months. During this time, they can take care of your kids, and do some light housework.

You can find an Au pair through an agency, by word of mouth, or even on a Facebook group.

Cost

Au pairs can be very economical compared to other childcare options in Germany. You will have to pay pocket money which is around 260 EUR per month. You are also responsible for all kinds of insurances like health insurance, accident insurance, and personal liability insurance, which costs around 33-55 Euros monthly. Besides, you need to pay for the German class (around 50 Euro per month), transportation to the German class, visa and other admin costs. On top of these, you are also responsible for her living expenses at home. You need to provide a separate room and food for her. So, all in all, you may pay around 600 Euros a month. Part of this cost is tax-exempted. 

Pros and cons

The advantage of having an au pair is that she can be pretty flexible since she lives with you. For example, my friend has an agreement with her au pair that the au pair can normally work fewer hours stated in the contract. However, if her kid is sick, her au pair may need to work extra hours as the kid is not allowed to attend the daycare center.

A disadvantage of having an au pair is that the au pair will live at your home. So, you need to get used to having an extra person at your place.

Besides, an au pair is not allowed to work more than 6 hours per day or 30 hours per week. It means that if you are working full-time in Germany, you still need other childcare support like a daycare center. However, the au pair can help to bring and pick up your kid from the daycare center, which is quite a big help already for full-time working parents.

Read more: Tax Return in Germany – Guide for Expats

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Nanny (Kinderfrau)

A nanny in Germany usually has a childcare qualification. She comes to your home and takes care of your kid. Depending on the contract, she may also help with some light housework. 

You can search for a nanny by asking around your neighborhood, or by using a website like this one.

Cost

A nanny should be treated as an employee and have regular working hours. You will be the employer and are responsible to pay for tax and health insurance contributions. A nanny can cost between 15 to 22 Euros per hour.

A nanny usually works more hours than a babysitter and receives a higher salary.

Pros and cons

Compared to other childcare options, a nanny in Germany can be quite expensive as you will have to pay per hour. 

An advantage of using a nanny is that she will come to your home and take care of your kid. She does not live with you and it can be helpful if you just want someone to help with bringing and picking up your kid from the daycare center. 

Babysitter

A babysitter in Germany usually has no formal childcare qualification. She is usually a teenager, a young person like a student, or a retired person like a grandmother. She has usually a flexible time schedule to help with taking care of your kid when needed.

The difference between a babysitter and a nanny is that a babysitter can be more spontaneous and may not have regular working hours like a nanny. For example, she can help with one evening if you decide to have a date out with your partner. Besides, she usually has fewer working hours compared to a nanny.

Similar to looking for a nanny, you can look for a babysitter by asking around your neighborhood, or using a website like this one.

If you decide to use your babysitter more regularly, it is recommended to have a clear agreement in writing and have your babysitter register herself officially. By doing so, you can claim some tax back from the babysitter cost, and she is also insured while taking care of your kid.

In our case, our babysitter is also our neighbor who lives right next to us. She is a 16 years old girl who wants to earn some extra pocket money besides her studies. It is really convenient to have someone who lives close to us and can jump in when needed.

Cost

The cost of a babysitter in Germany is usually cheaper than that of a nanny, as babysitter does not have a formal childcare qualification. It can cost around 10 to 15 Euros per hour.

Pros and cons

An advantage of having a babysitter is that it is quite economical and it can be quite flexible. For example, if your kid is sick and is not allowed to go to the daycare center, you can call your babysitter and she might be able to help in short notice. 

A disadvantage is that the turnover of a babysitter can be quite high. A young student may move to another city after finishing her studies. It means that you may need to look for a new babysitter every now and then.

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What childcare options do you use in Germany? How difficult it is for you to get a spot in a daycare center? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

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