Vienna offers several public as well as private childcare options that cater to each family’s individual situation and needs. The most common facilities are public and private kindergartens (3-6 years) as well as nurseries (Krippe) for children aged 0-3.
Sending your child to kindergarten for the first time can be a long process. It starts with a phase of accustoming (Eingewöhnung): in the first days, your child will attend kindergarten for about 30 minutes a day; this time gradually increases until the child becomes comfortable in the new environment. During this introductory phase, you will be required to stay with your child in the kindergarten to help them transition.
The last pre-school year in Austrian kindergartens is mandatory for all children, regardless of whether they attend a public or a private childcare institution.
These are managed by the city of Vienna (department MA10). They are free of charge if the main residence (Hauptwohnsitz) of the child and at least one parent is in Vienna. That said, there is a monthly fee for food served at the facility.
The kindergarten year begins in September and the enrolment process starts in November or December for the following September. You may register at any time if you urgently require a child-care place but lack of open spaces during the year means your options are slightly more restricted.
Public kindergartens often have shorter opening hours than private ones. For details, please consult the facility where you plan to enroll your child and ask, for example, how many weeks a year they are closed, if there is a minimum number of weeks your child has to be on holiday, at what time you need to pick your child up if you are not working/on maternity leave, etc.
Places in public nurseries are very sought after and are typically available to parents who have a demonstrable need for help with caring for their child, such as a full-time job they need to return to after parental leave.
For further information on public kindergartens in English and how to apply for a place, go to the MA10 website.
These are not as expensive as you may expect as they are subsidized by the city of Vienna. That said, only children and their parents whose main residence (Hauptwohnsitz) is in Vienna may benefit from this subsidy. Additional charges may apply and vary depending on the kindergarten. In some private institutions, parents take turns to cook lunch for all children; others offer an exclusively vegetarian menu.
Registration process, opening hours and availability of nursery places or additional activities, such as music or swimming, depend on each individual facility. In all cases, you will need a registration number (KundInnen-Nummer). This can be obtained by filling in a form and contacting MA10.
Links to larger private kindergartens are available on the Vienna municipality website (in German): https://www.wien.gv.at/bildung/kindergarten/private-angebote/.
You can find a list of kindergartens in Vienna which have free spaces at: https://www.kigafinder.at/index.php?id=136/freie-plaetze.