Crèches, Kindergarten & Co – This is how it works in Frankfurt am Main
When my eldest daughter was born in 2012, kindernetfrankfurt.de didn't exist and it was really lots of work to get a good list of available crèches and kindergartens. Together with a friend, I compiled various lists into one that was relevant for us. Then I found out the concepts and other features and characteristics important to us for each nursery and then prioritised them. Regardless of our preferences, however, we also had to fulfil certain facility-specific criteria (e.g. place of residence, gender, age of the child) in order to get on top of the waiting list of our preferred facility. This criterion still has to be met today, but the tedious process has definitely been made easier by Kindernetfrankfurt.de.
In this blog post, I would like to tell you a bit more about the current system, the different types of care, possible selection criteria and important details. You will of course also get my insider tips in the hope that they will help you find the childcare place you require.
The nuts and bolts of childcare in Frankfurt
First things first: Your child must be registered with kindernetfrankfurt.de and this is the only way to get a place in Frankfurt am Main. All (non-company related) facilities or their providers are obliged to work with this municipal tool and advise all parents to please register their child at the facility via kindernetfrankfurt.de. The allocation of places for the coming school year always takes place from 1 February. Children entering kindergarten and after-school care should therefore be registered in kindernetfrankfurt.de by 31 December of the previous year at the latest and pre-registered for places in the desired facilities. Places for day care and crèche are also allocated during the year and are independent of the coming school year.
Families planning to move to Frankfurt am Main can also register on kindernetfrankfurt.de. All they have to do is enter their current address (for example, from Berlin). Kindernetfrankfurt.de then asks at regular intervals whether you already have a Frankfurt address so that the details can be updated. In order to ultimately conclude a care contract or care agreement, a Frankfurt address is required.
On the kindernetfrankfurt.de information portal, there are easy-to-understand brief instructions on how to use this allocation tool - in eight different languages, in sign language and in video format.
Care for the very youngest: 0 - 3 years
For the very youngest children there are two options for care, namely the childminder or the crèche. No matter which one you choose, it is best to register your child on Kindernetfrankfurt.de right after birth and make a reservation for your favourite facility.
Day care family
The day care staff (childminder) looks after a maximum of 5 children at a time in their own or a rented room. Childcare is possible from the age of 8 weeks, but depends on the childminder. The care times depend on what the childminder offers and the care needs of the family. Individually adapted care times are possible. The specialist service for child day care is run by the city school office, here child minders are arranged and support for the search for the right care offer for the child. As educators, they are specialised in this form of care, they offer advice on all questions concerning day care for children and can provide the necessary orientation in this publicly funded care offer. They know the childminders, their premises and their concepts. Child day care is close to their hearts and you need not be afraid to call them. (Stadtschulamt (City Education Office), Fachdienst Kindertagespflege (Child Day Care Service): Tel: 069/212-74449)
Crèche/ (Child) Day Care Centre
The crèche looks after children in groups of a maximum of 12 children with at least one carer for every 5 children. In theory, children are admitted from the age of 8 weeks, but as a rule, children must be at least 6 or 10 months old.
In this context, it is worth knowing that children from the age of 12 months have a legal right to care in Frankfurt am Main. On the one hand, this is positive, but it also means that all children older than 12 months automatically move to the top of the priority list of facilities. This means that children aged 12 months and older have a realistic chance of getting a place in a crèche. I advise families who are planning the length of their parental leave depending on a crèche place to check early on when a crèche place will really be available.
Once a crèche place has been found, the child is usually looked after every day between 7 am and 5 pm (depending on the facility) until his or her third birthday. Depending on when a nursery place is found, the care period can also be extended by half a year without any problems.
Care in the kindergarten: 3 - approx. 6 years
The kindergarten is intended for all children from the age of 3 years (or at least from the age of 2 years and 10 months) until they start school. A maximum of 21 children are assigned to a mixed-age group. In most day care centres there is a variety of project work. These aim to give the children the opportunity to explore their own bodies, the environment, creativity and social relationships in depth. In this way, the children gain experience and expand their knowledge in a playful way. Examples of this are language, art or forest projects and much more. There are also special projects for the pre-school children (i.e. the children who will start school in the next school year) in preparation for primary school.
Depending on the facility, there is daily care between 7 am - 5 pm. The cost of childcare is free of charge for all parents who are residents of Frankfurt am Main. Only the flat rate for meals must be paid by the parents. In the Kindernetfrankfurt.de, children can be pre-registered for care from the age of one and a half, i.e. from 18 months before their third birthday. I recommend that you start thinking about kindergarten no later than your child's second birthday.
Care for school children up to 12 years
School children up to the age of 12 can go to the after-school care centre, which is usually close by, for afternoon care. Here there is lunch, homework supervision, study groups and free play. Depending on the facility, which is not located on the school grounds, the children are cared for until 5 pm. An after-school care centre or school shop is usually small and looks after between 20 and 35 children. Depending on the facility, there is also an all-day holiday programme for which parents can register their children. As with the other facilities, there are different providers and it is not uncommon for an after-school centre to be organised by a parents' initiative. Children aged 18 months and older can be registered for after-school care in the Kindernetfrankfurt.de before they are due to start school. The after-school care centre must be located in your school district, otherwise you will only have a chance of getting a place in exceptional cases. (See also "Characteristics and possible selection criteria" below).
Extended School Care (ESB)
Extended School Care (ESB) is a care offer directly in primary schools and elementary schools. There is a fixed and usually high number of places which can be attended by children from the respective school until 3 pm or until 5 pm.
Early care begins at 7:30 am. All children can participate in the early care, even if they are not registered at the ESB. After school, the time in the ESB begins. A joint lunch is an integral part of the programme. In addition, the children can take part in all-day holiday activities.
The ESB is organised by independent providers, church providers or support associations in cooperation with the school. The providers employ educational specialists (e.g. social education workers or nursery school teachers) and staff with other qualifications (e.g. carpenters or theatre teachers). Together, the children are offered a varied programme. For this purpose, the ESB uses the school's rooms (e.g. care rooms, play rooms, classrooms, sports halls and the outdoor area). Pre-registration for the ESB takes place via kindernetfrankfurt.de
You can find a detailed overview of the different providers, pedagogical concepts, childcare offers and costs of childcare in the really helpful information portal on the website of Kindernetfrankfurt.de.
Possible selection criteria
As a mother of three children aged 3, 6 and 8, I have built up a large network over the years and have exchanged a lot of information about childcare. I have not yet heard of any family not getting a place in a facility in the district. However, you usually don't have a choice and can't decide between different childcare options. Nevertheless, all parents want to get a good overview of the different options and decide for themselves which facility suits them and the child best. To this end, I have written down a few points below concerning the issues that influenced our choice. Information and viewing appointments are often offered and these points can serve as a guide for a discussion. And one more personal tip on choosing a facility: always rely on your gut feeling. Regardless of the geographical advantages of the facilities, I would always let my gut feeling decide. Because nothing is more important - also from a professional point of view - than knowing that your child is in good hands.
Characteristics and possible selection criteria:
Mixed day care facilities (everything in one house: crèche, kindergarten and after-school care): A really big advantage of a mixed facility is that you most likely only have to apply for a place once. After that, you more or less automatically slide into the next form of care and are offered a place. Unfortunately, there are not so many of these facilities and they are also very popular for this reason.
Number of groups or total number of children
Concept and significance (e.g. closed, semi-open, open work, forest kindergarten, Montessori kindergarten, etc.)
(Outdoor) area and design (age-appropriate differences)
Meals (is breakfast provided or does it have to be brought in? Is lunch cooked at the facility or delivered? Or is it prepared by the parents in rotation? Is the food organic? Are there sweets? Can intolerances be catered for? etc.)
Closing times (approx. 25 days per year)
Profile and projects (regular excursions, language, art or forest projects, etc.)
Cooperation between family and facility (development discussions, parents' council, duties to participate)
Festivals & celebrations (depending on the ideological, denominational or non-denominational orientation of the provider, parent-child afternoons)
Staff (who are the staff and what training do they have, staff turnover: how long have they been employed at the facility? Is there a constant change of educators? What is the atmosphere like in the team? Try to talk to parents who have their children cared for at the centre.)
Dates (for example, is there a renovation/renovation or similar coming up in the near future, so that the facility may have to move into containers on the premises or to another area)?
School district - especially when choosing a kindergarten or after-school care centre, you should pay attention to the school district in which the facility is located. In principle, pupils attend the primary school in whose school district they live, i.e. you cannot choose just any primary school in the city, but there are predefined primary school districts which you can find out here. The kindergartens and also the after-school care centres allocate places according to the school district, so that the probability of getting a place in the kindergarten with the same school district is considerably higher.
What you are probably still very interested in now, is how you actually manage to place your child in your favourite institution. Honestly, the only thing that helps is to stay in contact with the institution. You have to attend all the information meetings and make sure that your presence is noted, even that of the dads who are very welcome. Write regular emails and send, for example, a holiday greeting with a photo of the child or holiday greetings. Don't necessarily call at all, as the facility managers are often tied up in operations (especially due to the deficits in care staff). E-mails are therefore a good way to keep in mind. In the comments of the pre-registrations in the Kinderet, you should note the reasons for your choice, e.g. friends of children who are already being cared for there, professional characteristics (shift work, etc.) or family backgrounds. You can also state here whether a 2/3 place instead of a full-time place would be temporarily possible, or whether it would be possible to start at the kindergarten during the year, etc.
By the way, the care centres can see whether and how many other facilities you have registered with. And if you have more than one child, I can reassure you: there is a sibling bonus, i.e. if one child is accommodated, you have this bonus and usually do not have to go through the whole procedure again. A reservation in the children's network and a conversation with the head of the facility is most likely sufficient for the childcare place.
If you still have questions about childcare in Frankfurt, please feel free to contact me at any time. Have a look at my testimonials: I recently supported Constance, a successful lawyer, by taking care of all the organisational things she had to do during her pregnancy. Together we found, for example, a midwife and also a childminder who will lovingly look after her three-month-old baby so that she can combine family and work well.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.