Daycare centers abroad: information for parents and educators

The topic of free daycare centers is now hotly debated throughout Germany. Berlin and Lower Saxony, for example, have already introduced free kindergarten. However, such good conditions are not to be found abroad. Because German kindergartens abroad are generally operated as private facilities, they must charge corresponding kindergarten fees. The Association of German Kindergartens Abroad (VDKA) surveyed 81 foreign kindergartens on the level of contributions.

North America more than twice as expensive as Europe

The result: contributions vary according to the cost of living in the regions. While German nursery schools abroad in Europe stated that they had an average of around 5.605 euros in annual daycare fees, the average amount charged by institutions in North America (USA and Canada) was 12.529 euros. Although it must be taken into account that not all daycare centers offer full-time places, the costs in North America, even for part-time places, are significantly higher than in Europe.

In Europe, the following trend is emerging: annual contributions are rising continuously, but less sharply since 2014. Six years ago, parents paid 4 euros for a kindergarten place for their children.684 per year on average, this amount rose by around 13 percent in 2014 to an average of 5.290 Euro. The 5.605 euros in annual contributions reported by European foreign childcare centers for the 2016/17 school year result in an increase of around six percent compared to 2014. This trend is likely to continue.

In this context, the VDKA also asked how educators can apply to German foreign daycare centers. There, too, the path to the daycare center leads via an application and the subsequent interview. There are various options for this, which are used by the foreign daycare centers (multiple answers were possible): Three-quarters (75 percent) of all facilities conduct their interviews at the place of work. Almost as many (74 percent) use video conferencing tools such as Skype, FaceTime or the like to get to know applicants. Just under one in three German daycare centers abroad (30 percent) relies on the traditional telephone call for the job interview. Only eight percent of kindergartens interview their applicants in Germany.

Daycare centers abroad help with entry formalities

After the job commitment, successful applicants should already be planning their next steps. Many of the German kindergartens abroad provide assistance (here, too, multiple answers were possible): Almost every second facility (46 percent) supports its new employee in obtaining a work permit, and more than half of the facilities (52 percent) assist in finding a place to live. When it comes to language courses, around one in three Kita 35 percent pledge their support. A similar number of daycare centers (36 percent) generally expect to have or to be able to offer German as a foreign language. Partial independence.

An important aspect of the pedagogical work is the number of colleagues with whom the day-to-day work in the international daycare centers is carried out. The number of educators varies considerably due to the different sizes of the daycare centers. On average, however, German daycare centers abroad in Europe have ten permanent teaching staff, while in North America they have only eight.

A permanent position provides planning security and is not uncommon in German kindergartens abroad. In North America, 73 percent of permanent educational staff have a permanent contract. In Europe, even more facilities make a long-term commitment: 84 percent of the educators there have a permanent position.

Salary of educators in German kindergartens abroad varies greatly

Regardless of the survey, educator salaries are also important in the application process, but experience has shown that there are significant differences here as well. Wage information often refers to the "local salary". However, the cost of living and the standard of living make it difficult to compare different regions: a German daycare center in London inevitably pays higher salaries than a facility in Eastern Europe, for example. Collectively agreed wages or minimum wages, as in German kindergartens, are not available everywhere abroad.

In addition, German daycare centers abroad are usually privately financed facilities with a correspondingly calculated budget. Applicants should therefore be prepared for the fact that educator salaries abroad are different from those in Germany. However, the daycare centers sometimes offer other extras in return, such as discounted or free accommodation, annual flights home or the assumption of health insurance costs.

German is only relevant for a few foreign daycare centers

Only one in ten German daycare centers abroad states that a child's command of the German language is a prerequisite for admission. Almost one in three foreign daycare centers (30 percent) believes that the child should speak either German or the local language when it enters the center. Only two percent consider the national language alone to be relevant for this purpose.

For six out of ten kindergarteners (58 percent), it does not matter which mother tongue the child speaks. However, it cannot be assumed that the mother tongue as such is neglected. In fact, kindergarten is the ideal time and place in a person's life for second language acquisition. The earlier a child acquires a second language, the better she masters it. Thanks to their cognitive abilities, children easily master the acquisition of German so that they can reach the native language level by the time they start school.