When we arrived to Bielefeld, one of the hardest things to deal with was to organize child care for our two kids. One of the kids was bit over one year old, and the other just over four. There is no two ways about it, it is difficult to get a child care place in BI, even the locals wait for years. I will list here couple of things that we came across which might be helpful to you. It would be great if other Trailing Spouses who have kids could add to this so that we would get a rounded view on the topic.

I start with the facts first. When you want a place in a KITA (crèche) or with a Tagesmutter (private person who minds kids at their home, these places are often for the kids aged 1-3) you need to apply  through the Jugendamt . (They are located at the Rathouse) The application has to be in early at the year, around February, to get a place for next September. The problem is, that you can’t apply for a place if you don’t have an address, and you will not have an address until you move to the country and then it will be too late to apply for the KITA. We did apply in time but they literally disregarded the paperwork as we didn’t have an address in Germany yet, this is a real fault on the system. So what to do? I found only one method  worked, pester them! Go to the Jugendamt every morning to talk to the person who will be taking care of your particular case. Go every morning, be eager, and don’t take a no for an answer. We didn’t speak ANY German when we did this, neither they spoke any English but I got my message through.

In the Jugendamt they will more than likely give you a list of KITAS that you can visit. I never figured out what was the point of seeing EVERY SINGLE KITA in BI if we were not obviously going to get a place in them. However, we visited them, filled tens and tens of forms (not nice when you don’t speak the language) and were finally told that we will get a place the following year, that was 14 months later. That’s when I turned on the pressure a bit more and the tone of my voice might not have been my nicest.

I also needed to provide a letter to proof that we need a place because I was working. I almost flip my top because of this, as I don’t see the place in a KITA important so that I can go to a hair appointment. Instead I believe that  KITA is absolutely vital for my active kids to meet  peers and have a chance on integration and learning the language. I have heard that not all families are asked to provide this letter, but if you are, just lie. Say that you are a writer/poet/distance worker… or that you are going to take a full time language course, this should be enough to get a place. Eventually. If you are working, then you possibly provide a letter from your employer.

Locals will tell you that you are not going to get a place in a KITA, the Uni personnel are going to say that same. Just don’t take no for an answer if you want a place.  Apply and be keen, and ring, and visit…

The Uni has a KITA for the staff kids, but it is very hard to get a place in there as well. However, many of us eventually got places in there and we love it. Maybe some other Trailing Spouse could write a bit about how they went on about getting a place there?

In my next post I will talk about the ways the KITAS and Tagesmutters operate. They are great in my opinion, well worth going though the trouble of getting a place.