Bringing your family
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There is generally a fee to have your children enrolled in a day care center or a kindergarten. The costs vary according to the services provided and are normally based upon the parents' income.
Are you planning to bring your family to Oldenburg?
If your children will be coming with you to Germany, you should find out as early as possible what child care facilities are available. Day care spots are in high demand, and there are often waiting lists. So it's a good idea to apply for and try to get day care spots for your children prior to arrival in Germany.
Children between the ages of three and six years have a statutory right to a place in a kindergarten, though kindergarten attendance remains voluntary. As childcare provisions and care times vary from facility to facility we recommend that you contact these facilities prior to your arrival. In addition to kindergartens, there are (Kinder-)Krippen (crèches) that provide childcare for babies and toddlers. A fee based on the parents' income level, on the range of services the respective facility provides and the number of siblings is charged for places at childcare facilities.
If you wish to bring your children to Oldenburg, you should find out about daycare options and facilities prior to your arrival. The kindergarten year usually starts in August, and only in exceptional cases is it possible to get a place in a facility on short notice.
There is a signing up period in January of each year. Many facilities have an Open Day (Tag der offenen Tür) for parents who would like to see the facility and meet the staff before signing up. In Oldenburg, places in childcare facilities are assigned in a centralised procedure. Details on the procedure can be found on the website of the City of Oldenburg. Parents fill in a form and name their preferred childcare facility. The City's Amt für Jugend, Familie und Schule (Agency for Youth, Family, and Schooling) is in charge of assigning places and will inform parents some time between the end of February and the end of April of its decision.
A childminder (in German: Tagesmutter) is a more individualised, flexible childcare option. Childminders generally look after several children during the day in their own home. Childminders are required to hold a valid state certificate and a licence from the child protective services (Jugendamt). They are also required to update their paediatric first aid training every 2 years. You can find Tagesmütter in the classified ads sections of newspaper or through the child protective services. If you are looking for a babysitter to look after your children for a few hours a day or for an evening, it is a good idea to ask your colleagues and neighbours for recommendations.
Compulsory school attendance (Schulpflicht) in Germany requires that all children between the ages of six and fifteen attend school. The German general school system has two stages of school education: primary and secondary. Primary education runs from years 1 to 4. Secondary education (Sekundarstufe I) runs from years 5 to 10 with three different tracks of schooling: Hauptschule, Realschule (in Lower Saxony, these two tracks are combined into Oberschulen) and Gymnasium. Students receive an intermediate-level qualification once they have successfully completed year 10. Students who are eligible to take Abitur exams continue secondary education until either year 12 or 13 (Sekundarstufe II), depending on the school they attend. The German school system also has Gesamtschulen (GS) and Integrierte Gesamtschulen (IGS). These schools combine all three tracks of schooling and allocate students to different course levels according to performance: remedial, basic, and advanced. Kooperative Gesamtschulen (KGS), on the other hand, keep the three tracks of schooling separate and teach students separately even though they all attend the same school.
As each federal state has its own school holiday dates, the school year starts in either August or September. In the past, part-time education was more common in Germany than full-time education, with the school day ending early, between 13:00 and 14:00. In recent years, however, full-time education has become increasingly prevalent and many schools now offer full-time education until 15:00 or 16:00 and provide lunch at cafeterias and/or dining halls (Mensas).
Most schools in Germany are public and do not charge tuition. Parents do, however, have to pay for learning materials and school trips and outings. Private schools are less common in Germany.
The Amt für Schule und Bildung of the City of Oldenburg is responsible for schooling and education and informs on the various schools in Oldenburg. You can consult the school administration (Schulleitung) and go and see the schools for yourself before choosing one for your children.
If your partner is accompanying you to Oldenburg and would also like to work during his or her stay here, you should find out about the employment regulations as soon as possible. The City of Oldenburg's Welcome Center is your contact for such inquiries and can inform you about whether you are allowed to be gainfully employed in Germany and how to apply for jobs. Current job offers are listed in daily newspapers (generally in the weekend editions) and online, on the University's notice-board, or at the Employment Agency in Oldenburg.
You will also find job advertisements and information for partners of visiting academics on the EURES (European Job Mobility Portal) website. You can make an appointment with a EURES advisor at the Federal Employment Agency in Oldenburg.