By Laura Kohler
The search for childcare in Munich can be an incredibly frustrating experience. Once you’ve mastered KITAFinder, you still have to decide which type of childcare facility to apply to. Here is a quick guide to terminology.
The term KiTa is short for Kindertagesstätte, or any childcare facility. There are three different types of KiTas: Kinderkrippen, Kindergärten, and Horte. Kinderkrippe is for children under 3 years of age, Kindergarten for children from ages 3 to 6, and Hort for children who are attending primary school. Integrated Krippen and Kindergärten include specialized care and facilities for children with disabilities and those without. Intercultural Kindergärten place the emphasis on learning about other cultures, and often other languages in addition to German are spoken there. There’s also the option of a Tagesmutter, an individual who cares for up to five children in their own home, or a Großtagespflegestelle, where several Tagesmütter work together to care for their charges. A child can stay with the same Tagesmutter from shortly after birth to up to 14 years of age (children of school age only after school). Further facilities include Häuser für Kinder, where places are offered for children from 9 weeks to 6 years of age, and Kindertageszentren (KiTZ), which offer care for children aged 9 weeks to 12 years. Unlike KiTas, these facilities often offer mixed age groups.
KiTas offer a structured learning environment for your child, with each KiTa having a different pedagogical goal or focus. When applying to a KiTa, you should take the time to read about what programs they offer. Information is usually found on the KiTa’s website. Tagesmütter care for fewer children, and offer a more family-like environment. While most KiTas require that children are booked in for whole or half days, Tagesmütter can be booked for as few as 10 hours a week, allowing children a gentler transition out of the home.
Different programs offer different scheduling options geared to meet the needs of parents.
There are programs that offer only full day options, but also programs where you can choose the hours your child attends (usually morning or afternoons), even those that offer extended hours for parents with work schedules outside of normal business hours. When you apply for a KiTa, it is important to make sure that the facility offers a scheduling opportunity that meets your family’s needs.
There are different types of KiTas certified by the city of Munich: private, state run, and state supported.
Private KiTas are almost always more expensive, but offer a wider range of activities for children and often have a lower child to carer ratio. They are often bi- or multilingual and often offer extras such as organic lunches or a pickup and dropoff service.
Staterun KiTas are run by the Bavarian State. They must also meet rigorous standards of care for the children, but often have a higher child to carer ratio. State supported KiTas are run by charities or NGOs, but receive money from the state for the service they offer. They often have a specific pedagogical goal inline with the charity’s work, and usually have a lower child to carer ratio than the state run KiTas. The cost for state run and state supported KiTas is the same; parents pay on a scale according to their monthly income. Kita Finder only offers state run and state supported KiTas. Other options include Eltern-Kind-Initiativen, where a group of parents join together to hire certified carers for their children and provide facilities for their care. Often the cost of childcare is somewhat lower, as it is offset by the expectation that the parents themselves help with the running of the Initiative (this can range from helping with the children to administrative duties). They must also meet the standards set by the state. Some churches and other religious institutions will have a KiTa attached, often open to those who pay Church tax, offering religious instruction alongside the normal pedagogical program.
The best thing to do is to visit potential KiTas and Tagesmütter and look for the one most suitable for your child, before applying on Kita Finder, so that you don’t find yourself allocated a place you’re unhappy with. Most KiTas will offer Open Days several times a year, and some will allow you to come in and observe the groups with a private appointment. Go! Make sure they can meet your scheduling needs and the developmental needs of your child. If you’re sure you’re happy with all the facilities you’ve applied to, you know you’ll be happy with whatever place you’re offered.
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