The Childcare System in Germany: A Guide for Expats

Updated on
May 24, 2023

If you're an expat living or moving to Germany with children, you may be interested in learning about the country's childcare system. Germany has a comprehensive childcare system that provides a range of services for families with young children. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the childcare system in Germany and what expats need to know.

Types of Childcare

In Germany, there are several types of childcare options available for families with young children. These include:

  • Daycare centers (Kita): These are government-funded centers that provide care for children aged three months to six years.
  • Kindergarten: These are preschools for children aged three to six years. They are also government-funded.
  • Family daycare (Tagespflege): This is care provided in a home setting by a licensed caregiver.
  • Babysitters: These are private caregivers who provide care in the family's home.
  • After-school care (Hort): This is care provided for school-aged children before and after school.


The cost of childcare in Germany varies depending on the type of care and the family's income. Daycare centers and kindergartens are free for families with low incomes, while those with higher incomes may have to pay a fee. Family daycare and babysitters are typically paid for by the hour, with rates varying depending on the caregiver's experience and qualifications.


The availability of childcare in Germany can vary depending on the region and the type of care needed. In some areas, there may be long waiting lists for daycare centers and kindergartens, while in other areas there may be plenty of available spots. It's recommended that expats research childcare options in their area well in advance of needing care.

Legal Requirements

In Germany, all childcare providers must be licensed and meet certain requirements. This includes having a clean criminal record, completing a first-aid course, and meeting certain educational and training requirements.

Additionally, all children under the age of six are entitled to a place in a daycare center or kindergarten, and employers are required to provide flexible working arrangements for parents with young children.

Benefits of the Childcare System

The childcare system in Germany has many benefits for families with young children. It allows parents to work and pursue their careers while their children receive quality care and early education. Additionally, it provides children with the opportunity to socialize and learn in a safe and structured environment.

Challenges of the Childcare System

While the childcare system in Germany has many benefits, it's not without its challenges. As mentioned earlier, availability can be an issue in some areas, and the cost of care can be a burden for families with higher incomes. Additionally, some parents may struggle with separating from their children and leaving them in the care of others.

Get more information about Childcare and Babysitting Services for Expats in Berlin

Understanding the German Childcare System: A FAQ Guide for Expats

What is the structure of the childcare system in Germany?

Germany's childcare system is designed to cater to the needs of children from birth up to school age. It's divided into Kita (Kindertagesstätte, a daycare center for children under three years), Kindergarten (for children from three to six years), and Hort (for school-age children who need care after school hours).

Is childcare mandatory in Germany?

Childcare is not mandatory in Germany, but education is. All children from the age of 6 are required to attend school, but attending Kita or Kindergarten is optional. However, due to the comprehensive benefits these institutions offer, many parents choose to enroll their children in these programs.

What are the costs associated with childcare in Germany?

The cost of childcare in Germany varies depending on several factors, including the child's age, hours of care needed, and whether the institution is public or private. Some federal states in Germany offer free hours of childcare, whereas in others, parents have to contribute a fee based on their income.

How are childcare services regulated in Germany?

Childcare services in Germany are heavily regulated to ensure high-quality care. This involves regular inspections, a well-defined curriculum, and stringent requirements for staff qualifications. Additionally, each federal state in Germany has its specific laws and guidelines concerning childcare.

How can expats access the childcare system in Germany?

Expats can access the childcare system in Germany quite similarly to locals. They can register their children in local Kitas, kindergartens, or Horts depending on the child's age. It is recommended to start the process early, as spots can fill up quickly. Many institutions also have multilingual staff to cater to children from different linguistic backgrounds.


The childcare system in Germany is comprehensive and provides many options for families with young children. Expats moving to Germany with children should research their options well in advance of needing care and be aware of the legal requirements and costs associated with different types of care.

By understanding the childcare system in Germany, expats can make informed decisions about their children's care and ensure that they receive quality care and early education.

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