Social Assistance (Sozialhilfe)
If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot support yourself and no one else can help you, you can apply for social assistance (Sozialhilfe). These are known as subsistence benefits, which the Social Welfare Office (Sozialamt) uses to pay for your running costs for food, accommodation, clothing or personal hygiene, for example. This may also include benefits for education and participation for children. Under certain conditions, the Social Welfare Office also covers the costs of one-off purchases such as the initial things required for setting up your household or in the case of pregnancy and childbirth. In addition to subsistence benefits, there are also other social assistance benefits. This includes help to overcome particular social difficulties, help with health, care and integration. Social assistance is available in cash or in kind, but also in the form of services such as counselling and personal assistance. These forms of assistance should enable you to get to a point where you can help yourself again.
Basic Security Benefits for Jobseekers
If you are fit for work and your income or assets are not sufficient to cover your living expenses, you can apply for basic security benefits for jobseekers. In Germany, this is also called Hartz IV. The prerequisite is that you are not receiving the help you need from relatives or from providers of other social benefits. Basic security benefits are essentially meant to just tide you over. The Jobcenter usually assumes that you are available for work. You must therefore be prepared to look for a job, to have the Jobcenter find you a job, or to take part in further training or retraining. Pregnant people are subject to slightly less strict rules than other jobseekers.
For large families and single parent households alike, homes can quickly become too small when a newborn child is added. Your income must also be enough for another child. If you have a low income and if you have either rented a larger home or are short on rent because your expenses have increased, you can apply for a housing benefit at your local Housing Benefits Office. If your application for a housing benefit is approved, then as a tenant you will receive a subsidy towards your rent. If you own an apartment or house that you use yourself, you can get a subsidy towards the burden of interest, debt repayment or maintenance costs. Those who receive housing benefits or a children’s allowance (Kinderzuschlag) can benefit from another program: what’s known in Germany as an ‘education package’. It includes grants for many activities that will help your child develop.
Child Benefits (Kindergeld), Child Tax Credit (Kinderfreibetrag) and Children’s Allowance (Kinderzuschlag)
Parents often have quite a lot of expenses for their children. Fortunately, there are various types of financial support available. There are child benefits (Kindergeld) and the children’s allowance (Kinderzuschlag). You must apply for both. The third option is the child tax credit (Kinderfreibetrag), which you can claim instead of child benefits. Which option is better for you depends on your income. If you have a high income, the tax-free child tax credit is usually preferable. Don't worry, you don't have to figure this out yourself. The Taxation Authority (Finanzamt) will do it for you.
Extra child care allowance for students and trainees (Kinderbetreuungszuschlag)
As a student or trainee with one or more biological children, you can receive a childcare supplement per child and month in addition to your BAföG or your vocational training allowance (Berufsausbildungsbeihilfe) (BAB) under certain conditions. This amount is a full grant paid as a lump sum. That means you don't have to prove anything or pay anything back (§ 14 b BAföG). If your spouse or partner is also entitled to receive the BAföG childcare supplement and you share a household, you will need to discuss who should receive the money. This is because the state pays the childcare supplement only to the parent with whom the child lives.
Regardless of whether it's a kindergarten or a nursery school, professional care for young children costs money. Luckily, there are several offers and options to help you financially with these expenses. Expenses for babysitters, an au pair or a childminder are also considered care costs. What financial aid you are eligible for depends on your personal situation as well as where you live.
Financial Aid From the Federal Foundation for Mother and Child
Sometimes there is not enough money to pay for all the expenses that are necessary during pregnancy. Then you can apply for financial support from the Federal Foundation of Mother and Child. You can only make this request at a counseling centre for pregnant people. The foundation's grants are intended to ease any possible fears pregnant people with money troubles may have about the financial burdens of being a parent and can help them to better support themselves and their child.
Legal Guardianship (Beistandschaft)
If you are single and expecting a child or have already given birth, you can apply to the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) for a legal guardianship (Beistandschaft). A guardian can help you and your baby with paternity acknowledgment (Vaterschaftsanerkennung) and child support issues if you want them to. This help is optional and free of charge. You will also be officially informed about this option. If you are not married to the baby’s biological father, then the registration office (Standesamt) will inform the team of the support services at the local Youth Welfare Office about your situation as soon as your baby is born. They will then take the initiative to offer you advice and support. For example, the guardian can represent your baby in court if the child's father refuses to acknowledge paternity or refuses to pay child support. This will reduce the stress on you as you won't have to go through any legal battles alone.
Advances on Child Support
You are a single parent and does your child’s other parent not pay child support? Or they pay only in part and not regularly? Then your child has what translates to a ‘limited financial livelihood’. To compensate for this disadvantage, you can apply for an advance on child support payments at the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt). If the requirements are met, the Youth Welfare Office can take over the task of paying the child support that should actually be contributed by the other parent. The Youth Welfare Office then tries its best to get back the advance payments from the other parent. In principle, children are entitled to child support from their parents until they turn 18.
Cooking, shopping, washing, cleaning and taking care of children - all this can be exhausting during pregnancy, even under normal circumstances. If your pregnancy is then affected by an accident, illness or a complication such as premature labor, then everyday life threatens to collapse. If you have statutory health insurance or family insurance and no other person living in your household can continue to run the household, it is possible to apply for free home assistance under certain conditions. Depending on the situation, a home aide will support you for two or more hours a day with everything that comes up in everyday family life. If needed, it is best to contact your health insurance provider as early as possible. The staff there can tell you whether you are entitled to household assistance and where and how you can apply for this type of help.
Home Care For Children
If your baby is born with a serious illness or disability, or becomes seriously ill or disabled over time, they may need more care than a healthy baby. If this increased need for support is expected to last for more than six months, you can apply for help from social long-term care insurance. There are several ways to arrange for your child to be cared for at home. Accordingly, you can also get different types of benefits. On the one hand, you can have money paid out. On the other hand, you can also take advantage of additional or substitute help from an outpatient care service. In addition, you have the option of paying for a person to support you in the household or to look after your child at times via long-term care insurance.
Participation Benefits for Children With Disabilities
From birth, all people in Germany have the right to participate in the life of the community. They should not be excluded. That's what the Basic Law, Germany’s constitution, says. Therefore, people with disabilities and people at risk of becoming disabled have a legal right to certain forms of assistance in order to integrate into the community.