Daycare Vouchers

The specifics on daycare and daycare vouchers in Germany…

All children in Germany have the legal entitlement to receive daycare from the age of one. Before it is possible to enroll a child in state-funded daycare, a voucher (Kita Gutschein) is required. This is a document that takes into account the various social and economic aspects of each family in order to determine how much daycare is required for each child.

Depending on the age of the child, there is usually a set length for daily daycare:

  • From age one, the voucher is valid for at least half-day care (4 to 5 hours a day)
  • For the three years before a child starts school (usually from age three), part-time daycare is available (5 to 7 hours a day)
  • Before the age of one, childcare is available, but proof is needed to show that it is required

When there are conflicts due to work, educational, or specific social situations, it is possible to receive a voucher for supplemental daycare. This allows children to remain at daycare for longer periods of time than is generally allotted. When there is a need, children under the age of one (but older than eight weeks) may also have the ability to attend daycare.

In Berlin, children are entitled to free daycare in the three years before beginning school. Parents and guardians must only provide the funds for daily meals, and for part-time daycare it is sometimes possible to opt out of meals.

The costs of daycare before the three years prior to school are determined according to the previous year’s income, the daily length of daycare required, and other possible discounts (such as sibling discounts and social welfare).

To apply for a voucher, parents or guardians must go to the Youth Office (Jugendamt) in their district.

At the Youth Office, there are several prerequisites and documents that are required before a voucher can be issued. These documents determine the daily allotment of daycare and costs.

The prerequisites to receive a voucher are:

  • Guardianship of the child
  • Consent of the parent or guardian
  • Residence
  • Child must be at least eight weeks old
  • Application must be received from nine to two months before the child requires daycare

In addition to having to fulfill the prerequisites, several documents are required at the appointment:

  • A completed application form  (Anmeldung zur Förderung von Kindern)
  • Proof of consent of parent or guardian such as a signature on the application form or a written proxy
  • A copy of an identification card (Personalausweis) or passport
  • Proof of residence
  • Copy of child’s birth certificate (translated when appropriate)
  • For foster children, a copy of proof of management of the child (Pflegevertrag)
  • Copy of proof of income of previous calendar year

Depending on the individual family’s situation there may be additional document required.

Unfortunately, despite the legal entitlement of every child, depending on the district there can be a severe shortage of places at daycare centers. Therefore, it is important to begin searching for a place as soon as possible in order to have a better chance of receiving a place. It is sometimes possible to reserve a place at a daycare before a voucher is granted.

Note: It can take up to 6-8 weeks to receive a daycare voucher in Germany. Take this into account when planning to have a child begin daycare as enrollment is generally not allowed without a valid voucher. Vouchers can be applied for as early as 9 months before the start of daycare.

Further Information