Berlin offers a diverse array of day care facilities. The city is a leader in this area when compared to the West German states.
Children with a legal right to day care or whose parents have demonstrated a need for day care are guaranteed a space in a day care facility. In Berlin, children under the age of three also have access to day care outside the home if their parents can demonstrate a need for it.
Berlin's day care facilities also keep more convenient hours; the city has substantially more full-day day care facilities than other regions of (West) Germany. The expansion of day care centers is an important issue for the Berlin State government. More than 20,000 day care center places have been created in Berlin since 2012. A further 30,000 places are to be created by 2020.
- 2,356 day care facilities, known as "Kindertagesstätten" (Kitas)
- 146.583 children were enrolled in day care in 2015
- 4 non-contributory day care years prior to starting school, 5 years from 01.08.2017
- Free day care for all from 01.08.2018 (not including meals)
(Source: Die kleine Berlin-Statistik, 2016; Senate for Education, Youth and Family, 2017)
Over 90 percent of all day care offerings include the lunch hour. Parents who work outside the opening hours of day care and after-school facilities can apply for supplemental child care.
In addition, Berlin has made the transition to all-day schools across the board. During school vacations, parents can apply for child care during core hours if necessary.
Different forms of day care
Day care facilities (Kitas)
Kitas include nurseries (for children between 8 weeks and 3 years of age) and kindergardens (for children over the age of three until they enter school). Many facilities offer both services. There are also cooperative daycare facilities (Eltern-Initiativ-Kindertagesstätte - EKT), which are operated by an association of parents. At both Kitas and EKTs, parents contribute financially based on their income. Day care centers will offer free places for all from 01.08.2018; parents only have to pay for meals.
Small-group day care
In small-group day care, child care specialists care for a small group of children, typically in their home, but sometimes in joint facilities shared with other child care specialists. This form of child care is primarily intended for children under three, but there are also small-group day care facilities that accept children until they begin school as well as child care specialists who provide additional care for school-age children outside of school hours.
Employers can operate regular or emergency day care facilities by themselves or in cooperation with other companies. Emergency day care facilities offer child care tailored to parents' needs when regular day care arrangements fall through. Employer-operated facilities are usually on or near company premises.
Parents in Berlin have a choice of three different school concepts and schedules: the reliable half-day school (Verlässliche Halbtagsgrundschule) and the open or compulsory all-day schools. All of Berlin's primary schools are reliable half-day schools.
1. Reliable half-day school
Reliable half-day schools guarantee instruction and care between the hours of 7:30 am to 1:30 pm at no cost.
2. Open all-day school
Open all-day schools supplement the care provided by the reliable half-day schools with additional hours of child care: early care from 6:00 am - 7:30 am, afternoon care from 1:30 pm - 4:00 pm, late afternoon care from 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm and vacation care. Parents must demonstrate a need for child care in order for their child to attend an open all-day school and pay a fee depending on their income. Parents can register their children for after-school care in the school.
3. Compulsory all-day school
Compulsory all-day schools offer no-cost instruction and care between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm, which all students are required to attend. Parents who demonstrate a need for additional care can register for before- and after-school care, subject to a fee depending on their income.
Information center for flexible Kita day care:
Provides information to employers and parents regarding child care outside the hours covered by day care facilities and after-school programs.