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Children's shoes in a daycare center: 82 large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants examined

Photo: Christoph Soeder/dpa

How much it costs to look after children in daycare centers varies greatly.

Depending on where you live, attending daycare can be free, or it can cost several hundred euros per month.

In individual cases, if the parents' income is exceptionally high, it can be more than 1,000 euros.

This emerges from an evaluation by the Institute of German Economics (IW) Cologne.

State regulations and fee schedules for 82 large cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants were considered.

If possible, the basic fees in the first half of 2024 were taken into account - additional costs for meals and other services may be added.

A patchwork can be seen not only in the amount of fees, but also in the criteria used: In addition to the place of residence, the age of the children, the level of care and the annual income of the parents determine the amount of the fees - with income in each federal state be calculated differently.

Therefore, the comparability of the study results is limited, it said.

(Read here how early attendance at daycare can compensate for social differences.)

The study does not take into account the quality of daycare care, for example how many children a single teacher has to look after.

Parents with low incomes who receive child supplements or housing benefit generally do not have to pay daycare fees.

Up to 1220 euros per month for top earners

According to the study, full-day daycare can be expensive, especially for children under three years of age.

In Reutlingen (Baden-Württemberg), for example, 387 euros per month are due for eight hours of care for a one-year-old child with a gross income of 50,000 euros for the parents.

In Mülheim an der Ruhr (North Rhine-Westphalia), parents with an annual income of more than 175,000 euros pay 1,009 euros per month for 45 hours of weekly care for a child under two years of age - in Bergisch-Gladbach (NRW) the figure is for those with an income of more than 200,000 euros even 1220 euros.

On the other hand, attending state or state-funded day care in Berlin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and, from 2027, also in Saarland is generally free of charge.

“The families are only charged for additional services, such as meals,” the study says.

Fee schedules do not apply to independent providers everywhere

In other federal states there is sometimes a fee exemption for children of a certain age.

For example, childcare in Rhineland-Palatinate is free of charge for children aged two and over.

In addition, there are sometimes state regulations regarding multiple children being cared for.

In addition, municipal fee schedules do not apply to privately run facilities in all federal states - but these do play a large part in the care.

In Germany, a daycare place must be made available for children between their third birthday and starting school.

Children between their first and third birthdays are also entitled to care - in a facility or in day care.

“However, the existing offers for children under three are far from sufficient to actually cover the care needs expressed by parents,” the study says.

Only recently, executives complained that unreliable child care in this country was having negative consequences for Germany as a business location.