daycare options in Berlin
Children's daycare options in Berlin are usually one of the following:
Kitas can be run by non-profit organizations or associations organized by parents (Elterninitiative). A Tagesmutter usually takes care of 5 children, often beside her own children, but does not necessarily have the same formal qualifications as educators in a Kita.
The Kita is free and paid for by the Berlin senate. Parents have to pay for food which is on average 23.- Euro per month but can be more depending on your income. Many Kitas charge extra for activities and materials which can be anything between 40.- and 90.- Euro per month.
Who can attend a Kita?
The daily hours a child is eligible for a Kita depends on the study or workload of the parents. The Jugendamt differentiates between
- 4–5 hours daily: half daycare or Halbtagsförderung
- more than 5–7 hours daily: part-time care or Teilzeitförderung
- more than 7–9 hours daily: full daycare or Ganztagsförderung
- more than 9 hours daily: extended full daycare or erweiterte Ganztagsförderung
Children under one year only have access to a state-paid Kita if the parents can prove that they need daycare in order to work or study.
Children one year or more have a legal claim (Rechtsanspruch) for a Kita place of up to 5-7 hours per day. The legal claim is not for a specific Kita but you could sue and the city will be forced to assign your kid a place in any of its Kitas. Parents do not require to add proofs that they are working or studying to an application for daycare of up to 7 hours.
When applying for full daycare of more than 7 hours daily you need to prove can prove that you need full daycare because you are working or studying.
How to find a Kita
Finding a Kita in Berlin can be hard and you should start as soon as possible and before you have a Kitagutschein. Many people start looking for a Kita while pregnant or a long time before they intend to send their kid to daycare.
Kitas have waiting lists and free places are often only available when older kids start school in August. Kitas generally want to have a good mix of ages and gender and free places might be limited by age group or to boys or girls only.
Walk the streets and look out for Kitas. Don't hesitate to knock on doors and ask if there are free places. You can apply at any Kita even if it is not in your district.
Bigger companies sometimes offer in-house daycare centers for their employee's kids. Ask about this option when applying for jobs.
Ask at your Bezirksamt about Kitas. They often have lists of Kitas with free space and might be able to help you.
Find a Kita online
- Maternita Kita can help you search for a Kita.
- Kita Navigator Berlin has a search function to filter by the district.
- Kita Suche Berlin has Kitas visualised on a Berlin map.
- DAKS Berlin, the umbrella organization of Kitas in Berlin, has a list of currently free Kita places per district.
- Kitanetz has an index of Berlin Kitas.
Considerations when searching for a KITA
What kind of free places does the Kita offer?
Often free places are limited to half or full daycare or only for certain hours.
Do the Kita opening hours work for you?
Kitas often only open after 8 in the morning and many only offer care until 4 pm. Don't forget to ask about the closing times. Who takes care of your kid if the Kita closes for three weeks during summertime? What happens if an educator or the nanny becomes ill?
Size of the groups
How many educators per child does the Kita have? How big are the groups?
The hardest part for many parents is the first time they have to say goodbye to their kid at the Kita door. The kid usually runs towards you and starts crying. What helped me to get over this is to wait outside the closed door and listen. You will be surprised how often the little ones stop crying and start playing with the other kids once papa or mama is out of sight.
Do the cultural and pedagogical concepts align with your own?
You need a document called a Kitagutschein in order to get your kid into a Kita. The document is issued by your district's Jugendamt often located inside the Bezirksamt. You can get a Kitagutschein 9 months before daycare starts but you should not apply for it less than 2 months before Kita starts. You can sign a contract with a Kita even if you don't have your Kitagutschein yet but you need the Kitagutschein the latest the day the contract starts.
Read more in our guide on how to get a Kitagutschein in Berlin.
First days at the Kita
Once Kita starts the Eingewöhnung begins. This means that you visit the Kita or Tagesmutter together with your kid for only a couple of hours per day to get the child accustomed to his or her new surroundings. This period can last several weeks.