Finding Childcare in Germany

I mentioned in my previous post that spending the first year of baby’s life with him or her at home is common and expected in Germany, at least in the west. On the other hand, it isn’t so easy to go back to work within the first year or before age three because of the limited childcare options. While finding a Kindergarten (KIGA) in your neighborhood should be possible, finding one with a Kinderkrippe, translated to day care center, is harder. Even if you were able to get a spot for your three-year old at the KIGA that is walking distance down the street, if it doesn’t have a Krippe, you might have to drive your one-year old across town to one, that is if you got a spot and that is, if your town, city or village is big enough to have one at all.

While daycare for under three-year-olds costs slightly more than a spot in a Kindergarten (age 3-6), it is still heavily subsidised. When we had two children in Kindergarten (one under three and the other over) it cost approximately 170€ per month total.

Another common solution is to find a Tagesmutter or Tagesvater or  childminder. This is often an individual who is a stay-at-home parent who has received some additional basic training such as First Aid for infants and children. Typically, the Tagesmutter/-vater is looking after her or his own kids and has the “capacity” to look after yours as well. It’s an easy way for her or him to earn some supplemental income. You can look for one at your local Tagesmütterverein and depending on the region, they are paid anywhere between 3-10€/hour.

Mind you, this is often the situation in the west, particularly in the traditional south which is where I used to live. In former East Germany, thanks to its Communist roots, day care centers for infants and upwards is far more mainstream and mothers of young babies returning to work is not uncommon. You certainly wouldn’t be considered a Rabenmutter or a negligent mother.

Unemployed trained child preschool teachers are a good source for babysitters, but they often work part-time which often make them available only for late afternoon or evening babysitting gigs.  High school students are also a source for babysitters, but their priorities are usually elsewhere, and they aren’t always so reliable if you have to go to a job.

No matter where you live or where you are from, it seems like having grandparents close by is one of the best resources for filling the gap of childcare.