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CHILDCARE

How to receive money for private childcare in Berlin if you can’t find a Kita spot

Throughout Germany there is a shortage of Kita, or childcare, spots. But a new Berlin programme is giving parents who can't secure a spot reimbursement for private care. Here's what you need to know.

How to receive money for private childcare in Berlin if you can't find a Kita spot
Children at a Berlin Kita in January 2018. Photo: DPA

Finding a Kita is hard in many towns and cities across Germany. Even though every child in Germany over the age of one is entitled to a daycare spot in a Kita or with a Tagesmutter, the reality often looks different.

READ ALSO: How a Berlin childcare crisis is leaving parents stuck at home with their kids

In Berlin, for example, there were nearly 30.000 more children under the age of seven in 2017 compared with 2013. 

This has led to an estimated shortage of Kita spots ranging between 3,000 and 10,000 in Berlin alone – Germany-wide there’s an estimated shortage of 270,000 spots

However, if a spot can not be provided, parents may be entitled to compensation. In Berlin, some districts now reimburse parents for their private childcare costs if they fulfill certain criteria. 

The keyword for this program is selbstbeschaffte Kindertagesbetreuung and here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is the “selbstbeschaffte Kindertagesbetreuung”?

The term loosely translates to “self-organized child daycare”. It means that parents who have not been able to secure a Kita spot for their child can hire a private caretaker and apply to have the costs reimbursed by the Jugendamt while they wait for a Kita spot.

As of right now, the Berlin program has been approved for the period September 1st, 2019 to August 20th, 2020.

Who can apply for it?

There’s a few criteria you need to fulfill to be eligible:

  • Your child needs to be at least 12 months old

  • You need to have a valid Kita-Gutschein (the voucher you need to sign a Kita contract)

  • You need to prove that you have unsuccessfully applied for a certain number of Kitas (the exact requirements seem to vary by district, so check with yours what is needed) 

  • You need to officially register with your local Jugendamt as a parent that hasn’t been able to secure a spot yet

Tip: You can also apply if you’re bridging the time period before you start a confirmed spot (up to three months, according to the above requirements).

How can I apply?

You have to apply for the program with your local Jugendamt office. Unfortunately, not all the districts have information readily available but I did find documents (in German) for both Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Pankow, which are linked below. 

Photo: DPA

A couple of other offices also provided information and I have summarized everything in a handy table – see below. I will update the table as and when we receive more information from other districts.

If we don’t have information for your district yet, call or visit your local Jugendamt to find out more.

District

What to do?

Friedrichshain- Kreuzberg

Link to PDF

See Fr. Dressel in person during their Sprechzeit (Tuesdays 9:00-12:00 or Thursdays 3 pm to 6 pm) at the Jugendamt, Frankfurter Allee 35-37, 10247 Berlin, room 4116. Contact: 030-90298 4327, [email protected]

Lichtenberg

Contact person: Fr. Grieb (030 90296-5142)

Mitte

Send an email to [email protected] with the subject line: “Antrag auf Selbstbeschaffte Betreuung”

Pankow

Link to PDF

Mail your application (see required information in document on the right) to Jugendamt Pankow, Fachdienst 5 – Kindertagesbetreuung, Postfach 730113 13062 Berlin or [email protected]

Reinickendorf

Visit or call the Bezirksamt Reinickendorf (Jugendamt Tagesbetreuung, Nimrodstr. 4-14, 13469 Berlin) on Tuesdays 9am-1pm or Thursdays 3pm-6pm, or contact at (030)90294 – 6676 or [email protected]

Spandau

Contact the Kita-Koordination: Tuesdays between 9:00 and 12:00 (030-90 279 – 2444) or in-person on Thursdays between 3pm-6pm (Rathaus Spandau, 1st floor, room 161)

Tempelhof-Schöneberg

Reimbursement is not available. But you can apply for help with your search; email [email protected]

How many hours will be covered and what are the financial details?

The number of hours that will be covered are based on what’s been approved on the Gutschein (for example, with a full-time voucher, you can get up to 7-9 hours covered a day).

However, the maximum amount that will be reimbursed is based on what the district would normally pay the Kita. Pankow lists this as up to €1,349.63 a month for an “outside caretaker” or up to €504 if a family member takes care of your child (both minus the €23 you would normally pay the Kita for lunch).

I’ve been approved, now where can you find a suitable caretaker for your child?

It is important to note that you have to find a caretaker yourself. This can be a babysitter, nanny, a co-working space with childcare or even a family member (but note that you will not get as much money back if a relative takes care of your child – see above point).

The caretaker has to be able to send you monthly invoices detailing the days and times they took care of your child (and is responsible for paying taxes, social security, etc.). You will need to submit the invoices to the Jugendamt to get your money back.

This leads me to another important point: You have to pay the caretaker first and then pass the invoice on to the Jugendamt, so this may be a substantial financial burden to consider!

(I was approved for this program last year when the re-opening of our Kita was delayed and unfortunately, in my case, it took a few months to get all the money back.)

Anything else I should know?

Check what date the agreement (and reimbursement) will kick in – the Jugendamt may only start paying from the date your request was approved from their end (not the date you applied).

This article by Lisa Hübner Moreno was originally published on Kietzee, which helps Berlin parents find a kita near them.

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CHILDCARE

How to save money on childcare in Zurich

Zurich is Switzerland's most populous canton and one of the most expensive. Here's how to save a little on childcare.

How to save money on childcare in Zurich
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

The high costs of childcare are a frequent complaint of many a parent in Switzerland.

While this of course varies dramatically from canton to canton, the average cost of a day of childcare in Switzerland is CHF130.

The average Swiss family spends a massive 41 percent of their net income on childcare, three times the OECD average of 13 percent.

READ MORE: What is emergency childcare in Switzerland and how do I access it?

When paired with the cost of having children in Switzerland, it’s enough to make someone decide against having kids – or maybe leaving Switzerland altogether.

Tax

Keep in mind with all of these tips that you are able to deduct childcare costs from your tax in Switzerland.

This includes most forms of childcare, including for instance the costs of a private nanny.

In order to do so, you need to provide proof of payment when lodging your tax return.

Parents can deduct a maximum of 10,100 francs per child per year (federal tax), according to Swiss finance comparison site Comparis.

More information about how to deduct childcare costs from your tax can be found at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: What can I deduct from my tax bill in Switzerland?

Leaving the kids with the grandparents may be a more difficult solution for some expats. Photo by Nikoline Arns on Unsplash

Second hand

One of the silver linings to Switzerland’s wealth is that it has a lot of wealthy people, who seem not to mind how much things cost.

As a consequence, there are often great deals on second-hand stuff for kids.

If you send your kid to a creche, they may ask you to provide a range of different things like clothes, umbrellas and other weather equipment and small nap mats or even a basic crib.

VERDICT: How to save money when raising children in Switzerland

Obviously this stuff is expensive, particularly if you’ve already bought it for home.

Remember in this case that eBay is your friend, while you can also check notice boards at the childcare facility itself to see if other parents have stuff to give away.

One inside tip is to change the postcode in your eBay search to a wealthier one, thereby improving your chances of finding a bargain. 

Subsidies

When you learn that parents in Switzerland often spend 130 francs a day per child for childcare, you might feel like it’s time for a career change.

But due to the aforementioned tax breaks and subsidies paid out in the cantons, many parents will pay between 30 and 80 percent of this cost.

In Zurich for instance, if you earn 80,000 per year, you will be liable for around 70 francs per day.

Here is the calculator for Zurich which will tell you how much your subsidy will be on the basis of your income. 

Take time off

Of course, less childcare is always going to be cheaper – so if you can work out a solution where you or your partner takes care of the kids for some of the time, then you’ll already be saving (other than of course the lost wages). 

After birth, Switzerland has a moderate parental leave scheme, but the conditions offered by private companies are often better. 

Keep in mind that your child will be able to attend pre-school or kindergarten from around four years of age. While pre-school is not compulsory, around 99 percent of Swiss kids attend it.

In Switzerland, children can start attending school from around six years of age, with cantons required to offer at least one year of pre-school education.

This does of course depend on the canton, with some offering two years and Ticino offering three.

If you can take advantage of flexible work, then you might be able to take a couple of years off to take care of the kids and go back to work when your kid hits pre-school age.

READ MORE: How to save money on childcare in Switzerland

You can also bite the bullet and call up the grandparents, if of course they live in Switzerland. You’ll have the kids back punctually and with a Swiss dialect in no time. 

But if that’s not an option, then you need to consider the different types of childcare.

While most of us would think of a nursery or a creche as the standard, there are in fact several forms of childcare which are common in Switzerland.

This of course includes nurseries, but also extends to childminders (Tagesmütter or mamans de jour), babysitters, au pairs and private nannies.

More information as to the types of childcare available in Zurich can be found at the following link. 

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