Day care options in Berlin
Childrens day care options in Berlin are usually one of the following:
Kitas can be run by non profit organisations or associations organised by parents (Elterninitiative). A Tagesmutter usually takes care of 5 children, often besides her own children, but does not necessary have the same formal qualifications than 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 depdening 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 day care or Halbtagsförderung
- more than 5–7 hours daily: part time care or Teilzeitförderung
- more than 7–9 hours daily: full day care or Ganztagsförderung
- more than 9 hours daily: extended full day care or erweiterte Ganztagsförderung
Children under one year only have access to a state paid Kita if the parents can prove that they need day care 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 day care of up to 7 hours.
When applying for full day care of more than 7 hours daily you need to prove can prove that you need full day care because you are 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 day care.
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 migh 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 inhouse day care centers for their employees 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 a Kita.
- Kita Navigator Berlin has a search function by district.
- Kita Suche Berlin has Kitas visualised on a Berlin map.
- DAKS Berlin, the umbrella organisation of Kitas in Berlin, has a list of currently free Kita places per district.
- Kitanetz has an index of Berlin Kitas.
Considerations when searching a KITA
What kind of free places does the Kita offer?
Often free places are limited to half or full day care 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 4pm. Also ask about the closing times. Who takes care of your kid if the Kita closes for three week during summer time? What happens if an educator or the nanny becomes ill?
Size of the groups
How many educators per children 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 to listen. You will be surprised how often the little ones stop crying and start playing with the other kids once papa or mama are 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 districts Jugendamt often located inside the Bezirksamt. You can get a Kitagutschein 9 months before day care 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 latest the day the contract starts.
Read more in our guide 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.