Legal claim to a kindergarten spot (Rechtsanspruch)

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Hello All,

I have been sifting the internet but with little luck, hence posting this here. Hopefully there are some discussions that I may have missed, so if anyone can reply or point me to a good link it will be useful. TIA!

 

We (family of 4) live in Frankfurt. Our 3 year old (turned 3 in Mar) son has not received a Kindergarten place until now. We applied rather late (by German standards), since we moved to our current place in July last year, however officially this cannot be the reason for us not to get a place. After trying in vain to have some KG in our area to accept our son, our final resort seems to be to claim it through the legal right to a Kindergarten place for 3 year olds (Rechtsanspruch). While there is umpteen information on the internet on there being a legal right, I could find none that describes how to go about raising this claim. So, it would help if someone could answer (or point to answers) for the following:

 

  • To whom does one send this claim request to?
  • Is it necessary to send it through a lawyer? If not, does it help to send it through one?
  • The 'reasonable' distance is said to be within 5Kms of one's apartment, while somewhere it also states not more than 30 mins by Public transport. Is this enforced, or do they give you a place anywhere in the city expecting you to be grateful you got a place!?
  • How long can this take? Any personal experiences would really help.

 

 We would really appreciate any help on this topic. Thanks a ton!

 

Bests!

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I'm not sure from what you wrote if you've already come across this site:  http://www.kitafrankfurt.de/abc/rechtsanspruch/

They say if you have had no luck with individual Kindergärten you can try to register with several at once via their online system at https://www.kindernetfrankfurt.de/start;jsessionid=56E19F6346637D8E7204F5A0A191748C?0.

 

You can/should contact the good folks with questions about Kindergärten and Hort (not just Kitas) at:

Infobörse Kindertagesbetreuung
Stadtschulamt
Seehofstr. 41
60594 Frankfurt am Main
E-Mail: kindernetfrankfurt.amt40@stadt-frankfurt.de 

E-Mail: infoboerse.kitas@stadt-frankfurt.de
Telefon: 069/212-36564

 

It says on their webpage that if you feel you have a "Rechtsanspruch" claim, you should contact the Magistrat der Stadt Frankfurt am Main, Dezernat Bildung, Umwelt und Frauen.  But first contact the Infobörse people for sure (if you haven't already). They claim to have an overview of every/any free Kindergarten spots available anywhere in Frankfurt, so consult with them first.  It's bound to be very hard to find a spot anywhere at this point in the year; generally speaking, spots become available in Sept/Oct. as the oldest children move into local schools.

 

Good luck!

 

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Hi Liebling,

Thank you for your reply, it helps with the fact that the claim needs to be made to the city Magistrate. The site looks familiar, so I may have seen it, but missed the point about whom exactly the claim should be made to. So thank you for pointing it out!

 

I have already spoken with the information office of the Stadtschulamt on a couple of occasions, but all they asked me to do was send an e-mail. They did not seem as helpful as they make it sound on the website unfortunately!

 

The online portal is another big sham for me, we have obviously visited it since that is the only way to register one's child in a KG in Frankfurt now. However, it is a black box, once you apply there is no way to know the status. You only get a confirmation if and when a place is being offered to you. We even called every Kita (more than 10) that we applied to, but there is a standard answer 'all places for this year are filled', which translates to there not being any place not just immediately but essentially for the entire school year (until Aug 2018). This is the prime reason for raising the alarm. We see no light at the end of the tunnel!

 

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time. 

 

Bests.

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I have a lot of sympathy for your position and I know there are lots and lots of people in a similar spot and not just in Frankfurt. The law was designed to prompt cities to boost provision by waving a stick at them, and provision has not yet caught up in many places.  

 

If you sue for the Rechtsanspruch it won't get you a Kindergarten spot any sooner, since the problem is they are adding new spots as quickly as possible and they still cannot meet the waiting-list demand.  They can't give your child a spot that doesn't exist, and it's illegal for them to add children beyond the permitted teacher/child ratios.  What could suing get you?  Judging by legal precedents, you might get you reimbursement for lost wages if you can prove that as a result of lacking the childcare the state (city) has a duty to make available (mind you, I'm pretty sure the legal obligation in Hessen is only for 4 hours of Kiga a day, so you could only sue for 4 hours worth of lost wages per weekday, and it might be that Tagesmutter are counted as equal to Kigas in the childcare sense under Hessian law).  Or it might get you a refund of costs over and above the city Kiga fees that you incur by arranging some alternative early childhood education/care provider for your child (nanny?). I'm not sure you would be entitled to anything beyond those sorts of damages, though, and you would be unlikely to get a decision before September.  

 

No matter what, don't count on getting a Kiga spot before Sept in any case. Could happen but chances are slim. (Generally speaking, when Kigas work down waitlists they often have priority formulas which are not first-come, first-served.  Kids closer to school age (i.e. 4- or 5-year-olds) have priority over younger kids; kids' neighborhood of residence and special needs (including lack of facility with German language, for example) might also be relevant criteria.  If you need/want something before September consider a Tagesmutter (or some other childcare/education modality) and then you can either switch to a Kiga whenever a place becomes available, or else decline any Kiga spots you are offered if in the end you decide you're not keen on a switch at that point.  If you want a Kiga spot as childcare, you may well end up needing both a Kiga spot AND a Tagesmutter anyway, just to cover your working hours (assuming you work more than 4 hours a day, as mentioned above).

 

Good luck! 

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When they say that all the spots for this year are filled, is it not just as likely that they are talking about the current school year - so until this August? That would be my assumption.

 

We also have one of those portals for the whole area. We found our slots and for friends by trailing the kindergartens in person. We got slots much quicker that way - the town did eventually find places, but the personal approach was more effective. Obviously you have to be positive and friendly and sell yourselves. 

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2 hours ago, liebling said:

I have a lot of sympathy for your position and I know there are lots and lots of people in a similar spot and not just in Frankfurt. The law was designed to prompt cities to boost provision by waving a stick at them, and provision has not yet caught up in many places.  

 

If you sue for the Rechtsanspruch it won't get you a Kindergarten spot any sooner, since the problem is they are adding new spots as quickly as possible and they still cannot meet the waiting-list demand.  They can't give your child a spot that doesn't exist, and it's illegal for them to add children beyond the permitted teacher/child ratios.  What could suing get you?  Judging by legal precedents, you might get you reimbursement for lost wages if you can prove that as a result of lacking the childcare the state (city) has a duty to make available (mind you, I'm pretty sure the legal obligation in Hessen is only for 4 hours of Kiga a day, so you could only sue for 4 hours worth of lost wages per weekday, and it might be that Tagesmutter are counted as equal to Kigas in the childcare sense under Hessian law).  Or it might get you a refund of costs over and above the city Kiga fees that you incur by arranging some alternative early childhood education/care provider for your child (nanny?). I'm not sure you would be entitled to anything beyond those sorts of damages, though, and you would be unlikely to get a decision before September.  

All your points are valid, hence looking to gain from personal experiences of people who may have taken this route. It is surely a desperate measure and we would like to avoid it as much as we can. Not to mention we do not have Rechtsschutzversicherung anyway! Although, one thing which I learnt from some websites is that in the case of the child being more than 3 years, the city HAS TO provide a place, even if it means going above the limit of 10/12 children per group as an exceptional case. But to be eligible for this exception one needs to claim the legal right (not sure if it really translates to suing!!??) 

 

2 hours ago, liebling said:

No matter what, don't count on getting a Kiga spot before Sept in any case. Could happen but chances are slim. (Generally speaking, when Kigas work down waitlists they often have priority formulas which are not first-come, first-served.  Kids closer to school age (i.e. 4- or 5-year-olds) have priority over younger kids; kids' neighborhood of residence and special needs (including lack of facility with German language, for example) might also be relevant criteria.  If you need/want something before September consider a Tagesmutter (or some other childcare/education modality) and then you can either switch to a Kiga whenever a place becomes available, or else decline any Kiga spots you are offered if in the end you decide you're not keen on a switch at that point.  If you want a Kiga spot as childcare, you may well end up needing both a Kiga spot AND a Tagesmutter anyway, just to cover your working hours (assuming you work more than 4 hours a day, as mentioned above).

Going by how things are going currently, we will be delighted if we get a place in Sep 2017. But as I said, all places we are trying in say they are full for the year i.e. they have already signed contracts with parents whose children will start at the KG from Aug/Sep. So unless people retract, our son is not getting a place this calendar year and going by the process they follow probably not until Aug 2018. Which is just too late! Another factor not in our favour is that my wife is not working which is one of the many criteria used to determine who gets a place. Although legally (again from another source on the internet), they cannot use this as a reason for children above 3. For us, the main reason for a KG place is for our son to have some formal social interaction beyond the playground. Also to gain exposure to the language (we speak no German at home).

 

2 hours ago, liebling said:

 

Good luck! 

Thank a lot!

 

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Hi Kiplette,

Thanks a ton for the comment, appreciate you taking the time.

 

3 hours ago, kiplette said:

When they say that all the spots for this year are filled, is it not just as likely that they are talking about the current school year - so until this August? That would be my assumption.

That would be a logical assumption, however it is not the case unfortunately. How KG admissions work (based on conversations I had with them) is that they decide in Feb how the places for the coming school year, i.e. Aug of that year until Jul of the next, are going to be filled. This is the bulk of the spots, anything that becomes available in between (due to people moving etc.) are decided as it happens, by looking at the usually long waiting lists and based on a complex computation using predefined criteria (unique to each KG). 

 

3 hours ago, kiplette said:

We also have one of those portals for the whole area. We found our slots and for friends by trailing the kindergartens in person. We got slots much quicker that way - the town did eventually find places, but the personal approach was more effective. Obviously you have to be positive and friendly and sell yourselves. 

We have been contacting them regularly, but the language barrier does not work in our favour. My wife speaks no German, and me just enough to exchange pleasantries. When contacting them personally before Feb (phone and also visits), all we were told is that the decision is done through the portal and there is no way for the KGs to influence it (it seemed odd - but something was surely lost in translation), and that they will be sending information in Feb. After spending each day of Feb waiting for the post, I started calling the KGs in March, when I was told all places are filled! I have been trying to make a case, cajoling them with our helplessness etc. which results in just a half reassurance that maybe in May something would change due to some Kann-kinder deciding to attend school! The uncertainty is what is killing, since we do not even get to know how many children are on that waiting list and how far behind our son is on it. 

 

In your case, did you raise the legal claim or just contacted the Stadtschulamt who then provided the places?

 

 Bests!

 

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31 minutes ago, ingermany said:

That would be a logical assumption, however it is not the case unfortunately. How KG admissions work (based on conversations I had with them) is that they decide in Feb how the places for the coming school year, i.e. Aug of that year until Jul of the next, are going to be filled. This is the bulk of the spots, anything that becomes available in between (due to people moving etc.) are decided as it happens, by looking at the usually long waiting lists and based on a complex computation using predefined criteria (unique to each KG). 

 

We have been contacting them regularly, but the language barrier does not work in our favour. My wife speaks no German, and me just enough to exchange pleasantries. When contacting them personally before Feb (phone and also visits), all we were told is that the decision is done through the portal and there is no way for the KGs to influence it (it seemed odd - but something was surely lost in translation), and that they will be sending information in Feb. After spending each day of Feb waiting for the post, I started calling the KGs in March, when I was told all places are filled! I have been trying to make a case, cajoling them with our helplessness etc. which results in just a half reassurance that maybe in May something would change due to some Kann-kinder deciding to attend school! The uncertainty is what is killing, since we do not even get to know how many children are on that waiting list and how far behind our son is on it. 

 

In your case, did you raise the legal claim or just contacted the Stadtschulamt who then provided the places?

 

 Bests!

4

 

It may be cold comfort, but there is generally quite a bit of shuffling of places in the 6 months between when offers are extended in Feb and the first month of Eingewöhnung (settling in) in Sept/Oct.  Parents who have been on waitlists forever will decide not to take an offered place after all (esp. if they have found a solution their child is settled in in the meantime), and kids who do take up places in Sept/Oct may drop out again after a few weeks (when their parents decide it's too far away or they don't like the teachers or whatever).  To the extent that parents are on several waiting lists in addition to/outside the portal, they will necessarily be able to accept only one offer, so "their" places on other waiting lists will be cancelled (though the Kigas never find out about that until they come to offer the parents the spot - which means the waiting lists are populated by folks whose kids are enrolled elsewhere and have no further need for a spot ... it's an inefficient system in that regard, which they've tried to alleviate by centralizing things with the portal, but it doesn't seem to work so well.)   Thus number 25 on a waiting list might actually get a spot once the dust settles -- unless number 25 is leap-frogged by a child who meets more of the priority criteria.  

 

As I understand it, the process is basically a lawsuit, as you bring a case on behalf of your child against the authority charged with providing education/care to 3- to 6-year-olds (the city's Schulamt or Jugendamt or whoever). The case is brought before the Verwaltungsgericht (administrative court), usually in an Eilverfahren (urgent case) which takes something like 4-6 weeks to decide (though the outcomes, as mentioned above, are not likely to be esp. helpful).  As regards the possibility of a Kiga raising the teacher:child ratio beyond the legal guidelines in order to fit more kids in, I have to say it calls to mind that old Groucho Marx saying about not wanting to join any club that would have one as a member.  There's a reason for those guidelines, and adding more kids demonstrably decreases the quality of the care and education all the kids receive (even if in unseen ways, such as increased teacher sickness days and burn-out, higher teacher turnover, etc.).  

 

I really do feel for you, though. A few years ago I was in a similar position, looking for Kita and then Kiga places for twins (albeit not in Frankfurt). Double the fun, when there are officially zero places available.  

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Dear ingermany and all,

 

I am now in exactly the same situation and in also somewhere around Frankfurt!

 

So was the KG place granted eventually? I am now even thinking about to change city and move to Frankfurt city or wherever around the KG space is not that fully occupied. The penalty would be longer commuting time everyday.

 

So really appreciate if anyone can share some information and hopefully the light would appear at the end of the tunnel!

 

BRs

 

 

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13 hours ago, swimfree said:

I am now even thinking about to change city and move to Frankfurt city or wherever around the KG space is not that fully occupied.

 

Hi there, swimfree

 

Just over 3 years ago, in order to encourage young people to reverse the falling local birth rate trend, the Hessen state goverment announced their intent to heavily subsidize the KG costs across the state. Considering they had until then varied, even between neighbouring communes from 0€ - up to ~480€ AFAIR, this policy was extremely popular.

 

In all but the smallest and most remote communes, as soon as that policy took affect in 2016, there was immediate over-subscription. Last year there was reportedly a shortage of 23000 KG places in Hessen. The situation doesn't appear to have improved dramatically since then.

 

You should do a lot of research before considering whether or where to move since, almost anywhere within reasonable commuting time of Frankfurt, the situation may not be any different. That said there do appear to be pockets of hope depending on the individual family circumstances. I suspect lower earning families where both parents are obliged to work may be prioritized over higher earners or those where one parent doesn't work.

 

Here's a recent article which speaks about the competitivness of the situation in the Kriftel/Hattersheim area. Mit diesen Tricks kämpfen Eltern um die Kitaplätze

 

If you have a second computer (so as to avoid later elimination being caused by the site cookies) it may be worth engaging in some trial experimentation with the parameters (locations, types of KG, family background, kids profile, etc..) on the Freie Plätze im nächsten Monat - Kindernet Frankfurt search tool

 

If you need translation help www.deepL.com is currently a smoother, swifter and generally more accurate machine translator than www.translate-google.com

 

HTH

2B

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18 hours ago, 2B_orNot2B said:

 

Hi there, swimfree

 

Just over 3 years ago, in order to encourage young people to reverse the falling local birth rate trend, the Hessen state goverment announced their intent to heavily subsidize the KG costs across the state. Considering they had until then varied, even between neighbouring communes from 0€ - up to ~480€ AFAIR, this policy was extremely popular.

 

In all but the smallest and most remote communes, as soon as that policy took affect in 2016, there was immediate over-subscription. Last year there was reportedly a shortage of 23000 KG places in Hessen. The situation doesn't appear to have improved dramatically since then.

 

You should do a lot of research before considering whether or where to move since, almost anywhere within reasonable commuting time of Frankfurt, the situation may not be any different. That said there do appear to be pockets of hope depending on the individual family circumstances. I suspect lower earning families where both parents are obliged to work may be prioritized over higher earners or those where one parent doesn't work.

 

Here's a recent article which speaks about the competitivness of the situation in the Kriftel/Hattersheim area. Mit diesen Tricks kämpfen Eltern um die Kitaplätze

 

If you have a second computer (so as to avoid later elimination being caused by the site cookies) it may be worth engaging in some trial experimentation with the parameters (locations, types of KG, family background, kids profile, etc..) on the Freie Plätze im nächsten Monat - Kindernet Frankfurt search tool

 

If you need translation help www.deepL.com is currently a smoother, swifter and generally more accurate machine translator than www.translate-google.com

 

HTH

2B

Hey there 2B,

 

Thanks for the reply, which gives a higher level picture on why this is happening.

 

Yes, they said there is a bit hope if some child is moving and leave some space or some new teacher can be employed. In that case, the new position will be given to the child with higher points, which is based on the ages, how near is the kindergarten from your residence and the working time of the parents in the week. But they did not mention the salary.

 

Anyway, as ingermany mentioned, how it works is just in a black box, which gives no information of how far left we need to go. Maybe I will ask the office in city council some questions like how long is the waiting list and at which position is my son. But I do not expect too much on how detailed they will tell me.

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Have you looked into Tagesmutter? They will also of course be busy, but it might be worth trying. 

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4 hours ago, swimfree said:

Anyway, as ingermany mentioned, how it works is just in a black box, which gives no information of how far left we need to go. Maybe I will ask the office in city council some questions like how long is the waiting list and at which position is my son. But I do not expect too much on how detailed they will tell me.

 

I can only speak for the city I live in but the position on childcare places is not a secret.  It's regularly discussed on newspapers, in social media etc, as well as by the authorities.   

 

Germany's got a babyboom, including in the popular cities. Munich has its highest rate since 1966.  It's almost mandatory to have at least two kids now - so you are competing with each other.   I certainly know the three cities my family live in (here, Berlin, Munich) are unable to meet demand at present.  You will find complaints about lack of childcare in almost any middleclass setting.

 

I am also not sure why this is a surprise.  I really don't get why aspirational gentrifying middle-class parents pushing up the cost of living in increasingly expensive cities expects there to be a large group of poor low-paid women available to serve their families.  Where's the logic in that?  Who does the populace chasing the corporate buck imagine those saintly women to be and to manage - virtuously earning peanuts and bringing up other people's kids in places where rents are doubling and corporate sorts throw cash around?   

 

I'm amazed at the number of parents currently arriving (especially in Berlin) and then complaining that - surprise -  increasingly unaffordable cities do not provide a de facto servant class for their families.  Real cognitive dissonance there.

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1 hour ago, kiplette said:

Have you looked into Tagesmutter? They will also of course be busy, but it might be worth trying. 

 

Thanks for the suggestion.

 

I looked into that yesterday and tried to contact them, which is http://www.zenja-langen.de/ in Langen.

 

Unfortunately, they replied that no more position is available and let me go to city coumcil still. So a bit in stuck.

 

Another option I guess is some private kindergarten which is not part of the structure? Maybe I can send my son there until it's his turn on the waiting list?

 

But I failed to find any outside the structure that has a long waiting list.

 

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I am in the same position, I've started searching for KG place in March 2018, I've applied to about 10 Kindergartens but still no luck.

We are both working full time and a family member was helping us out by taking care of our son. But we only have thir help until the end of this year, after that I have no idea what to do?! I have also contacted every possible institution in Frankfurt but the didn't help really. So I am interested in the outcome of your situation, have they found a place for your child?

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