Wednesday, March 14, 2012


As a Mom, I know that having time on my own is important. I'm not lucky enough to have my mother living in the same town, so I have to depend on resources outside the family to care for my precious treasures. If you are PCSing and in the same boat, I hope you find this post helpful!

The first and best place to start would be your sponsor or employer first. They may prove to be the most valuable resource of information in your hunt for a good childcare provider.

Here in the Ramstein, Landstuhl, Kaiserslautern area, there are many CDC (Child Development Centers) for children of all ages. The service is available to Military and Civil Servants. CDC centers are run very much like daycares in America. In many instances, they have to answer to a much higher standard of care than privately run Stateside facilities. However, like just about everything overseas, space is limited. A person's family and professional situation determines how "high priority" that person is on the waiting list. I'm low priority because I don't work or go to school. Other factors affect positioning on the wait list, such as having two working parents, parents seeking higher education, a single parent situation, or dual military personnel. I recommend seeking out and contacting the facility that is closest to your future work/home. Army and Air Force CDC facilities are completely separate operations and need to be contacted in this manner.

Many parents moving to Germany are eager to get there children into a local school. Like me, I really felt it would be exciting and educational for my son to go to the local kindergarten here. I came in with grandiose ideas about completely melding into the culture. This hasn't been my experience. Unfortunately in this area it's very difficult to get a child into host nation school. The facilities are funded by the German government. The rule is, a person needs "kindergeld" to send their child to these schools. From what I understand, "kindergeld" is a type of voucher given to German Citizens (AKA: tax payers). Since, as foreigners, we don't pay into the system, we don't get the benefits. It's heartbreaking but, at the same time, completely makes sense.

Right now, because of the high concentration of non-Germans in this area, the local kindergartens here are fairly strict on this policy. It's always a good idea to check it out though. If there is a family out there in a smaller more distant village, they may be able to get a spot. I highly recommend doing the research despite my discouraging review. German kindergartens are good quality care at a low cost.

Another option to try is a religious kindergarten. Many larger villages will have a Protestant and/or Catholic kindergarten available. This could require some paperwork through the village bureaucracy. From what I understand someone has to become a "friend" of the Church, but it can be done.

There are a handful of private "international" schools in the area. These are more costly but are run similar to how an American preschool is run. The first place to find out more information on these places would be to look in the online Find-it guide. If you have enough time and have a fairly good sponsor... ask them to send a hard copy to you in the mail. They can pick up a copy at the closest USO office.

A small note, I've found that as a general rule here in Germany, when trying to find out information on anything, I get a better reply over the phone. I've sent many, many unanswered emails during my search. It can feel intimidating to some and I, myself, am very bad when it comes to this... but, pick up the phone and call!

If German kindergarten is not an option for you, another route would be placing an ad or contacting a nanny agency. On Ramstein Yardsales, Many people advertise services, or place ads, for child care. Ramstein Yardsales is the most economical way to find a nanny. I do caution to use common sense when using this site. This webpage is similar to eBay or Craigslist... buyer beware! I've never had a bad experience using these sites but it's important that I state this warning. Online agencies will cost much more money (A friend of mine was quoted 1500 to 5000 English pounds a month for a live in nanny). However, the benefit here of course, is that they are fully screened.

It seems when all else fails, word of mouth tends to be the order of the day. When it comes to childcare, there are limited options and a lot of people looking. (I don't know any Mother who freely gives up her babysitter's information.) If you know that you're going to need child care for small children upon arrival, I highly recommend aggressively seeking out your options. Try to keep in mind that the options may feel more limited compared to your homeland. For many people apprehensive about moving to a foreign land, this may feel like just one more overwhelming hurdle. "Don't give up" should be the constant mantra. The fantastic thing about coming overseas with the military environment is that "you are not alone" .

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