Congratulations – you're expecting a baby or recently had one! You're on Elternzeit and are planning when to return to work and where to send your kid to Kita.
After the initial excitement, I started to feel a bit overwhelmed with spending so much time applying to tons of Kitas and being told that maybe I could get a spot with them in two years or more when I could have been catching up on sleep or enjoying time with our new baby. So I feel your pain! But there's a few things that can make life easier for you that I wish I had known myself going into it.
So if you're not sure where to start and how to go about it, here's the Kietzee Guide to Berlin Kita Search:
1. How to research Kitas in your neighborhood or near your work 🕵️♀️🕵️♂️
You can use the search function on Kietzee to look up Kitas by postcode, district or name of the Kita. I would recommend doing so before your child is born – chances are you'll be very busy with your baby in the first few months.
Some Kitas may add you to their waitlist before your baby is born while many others won't allow you to apply until after your child is born, so check with the Kitas on your list.
Here's some general information on how and when Kitas fill their open spots
2. How to contact Kitas 👋
Each Kita has their own application process, which often makes it hard to know how to apply. Some have an online form to fill in, others want to be contacted by email or in person during their "Sprechstunde" (the latter, for example, applies to most Kindergärten City locations), others tell you not to call or visit in person - pretty confusing, right?
For Kitas with reviews on Kietzee, look for the section titled "How to apply" to learn how other parents did it. Here's an example for "Kita MaRiS des NUSZ":
Otherwise, check the Kita website for information or call to find out how to apply (if it's a small Kita, don't call during nap time from 12pm to 2pm).
No matter which way you apply, be sure to add some information about your family – we wrote a blog post on what to include in your Kita application and the letter we sent out during our search.
Try to submit your applications as soon as possible after your child is born if you'd like them to start Kita around 12 months old.
3. How to apply for the Kita-Gutschein 📝
You will need to apply for a Gutschein (voucher) with your local Jugendamt, which will determine the number of hours you are entitled to. You will need this voucher to sign a contract with any public Kita or Tagesmutter.
You can apply a maximum of nine months (and a minimum of two months) before your desired start date. Once issued, your voucher will be good for 16 weeks from your chosen start date. You can fill in the first part of your application online, then you will need to print your form and submit it with documents detailing your and your partner's employment status.
If you want your form to be processed quickly, drop it off in person or make an appointment and attend with all your documentation ready. Response times vary by Jugendamt and the time of year. You may also get a request for more documentation. The senate website says that it currently takes about 6 to 8 weeks for them to process your application but it may be longer.
Here's our detailed article on How and When to Apply for the Kita Voucher.
If you're ready to fill in the voucher application form, be sure to check out our step-by-step guide.
4. How to follow-up with Kitas ☎️
This is one of the most important steps!
After submitting your application and hopefully being put on a waitlist, follow up with your favorite Kitas regularly to find out if they are hosting any information sessions or when and how they allocate their spots.
I've found that most Kitas want you to follow up early in the year (January/February) for spots in the summer. Other Kitas will tell you to call once every couple of months to stay on the waitlist – ask each Kita how they would like you to proceed.
You may also try to get a better impression of a Kita by observing them at local playgrounds – maybe you'll even find your way into a conversation with them! While there's no guarantee this will get you anywhere, I did get offered a spot after hanging out with a local Tagesmutter at the playground and got a good impression of a couple of other Kitas by observing them with their kids.
5. What if you still haven't found a spot? 😕
Keep an eye out for new Kitas as they will have a large number of spots to fill, which increases your chance of securing one. It may also be easier to get a place in a district further out if you can swing it.
There's a few of different ways to learn about open spots and we summarized them all in our article "How and Where to Learn about Open Kita Spots in Berlin".
Finally, if you have friends with kids in Kita, find out if their Kita has open spots and how to apply (and why not ask them to create a review on Kietzee as well 😁).
Last but not least (and I know this is easy to say!): Be patient yet persistent – often times, Kita spots open quite last-minute as most parents are on multiple waitlists and may release spots nearer the time.
🤞 We're keeping our fingers crossed for you!
- Lisa and the Kietzee team
PS: As you're contacting Kitas, we'd love it if you would write a review of your experience on Kietzee so other parents can benefit from your knowledge – thank you! 🙏