Berlin offers free day-care to young children up to 9 hours a day. You need a Kitagutschein in order to apply at a Kita (short for Kindertagesstätte). The Kitagutschein is a document issued by the Jugendamt.
You find a list of Berlins Jugendämter here.
It is recommended to start searching for Kitas as soon as possible. You can sign a contract with a Kita before you have this document but you need the Kitagutschein latest the day the contract starts. The Kitagutschein has an expiry date and a Kita can be hard to find in Berlin so in most cases you want to get a Kita first, then apply for the Kitagutschein.
There are Kitagutscheine for several types of children's day-care:
- 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
A Kitagutschein is valid for any Kita or a nanny (Tagesmutter) registered with the Jugendamt.
- All official guardians must give their consent.
- You must be registered in Berlin.
- The kid must be at least 8 weeks old and does not go to school yet.
- You can apply for a Kitagutschein at least 9 months or the latest 2 months before the Kita starts.
These are the most important documents you need source:
- The application form.
- The consent of both parents.
- Copies of all passports.
- Registration (Meldebescheinigung) – a paper stating your official address in Berlin and issued by the Bezirksamt.
- A copy of the kid's birth certificate.
You need to provide proof that you are working or studying for kids under 1 year or for child care of more than 7 hours daily. In this case, add one or several of the following documents to the application:
- a letter from your employer saying what times a day and how many hours total you are working.
- For self-employed: add copies of any papers from the tax authorities or from the tax consultant, registration of your business, tax returns etc.
- For students: certificate of study from your university or school.
- The official district website wasn't up to date with the required documents when we applied for our kids. Ideally, calling the Jugendamt before collecting the documents might save you additional appointments.