In Germany there are several benefits that are interesting for parents. You need to have a residence and working permit to apply for Child Benefit (Kindergeld) or Parental Allowance (Elterngeld).
Required Documents to apply for Kindergeld or Elterngeld:
If you bring your children to Germany and you are citizen of a member state of the EU, the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway), or Switzerland you will be entitled to receive child benefits both as a scholarship holder and an employee of Bielefeld University. If you come from any other country you only qualify for benefits if you have:
Child benefits are paid until the child's 18th birthday, but may continue up to the age of 25 if the child is still attending school, vocational training, or higher education and has a personal income below 8,004 Euro per year. In exceptional cases, they can also continue to be paid after the age of 25.
You can obtain information on your entitlement to child benefits from the Familienkasse Bielefeld.
Child benefits are always paid to only one entitled person: generally, the parent with whom the child lives. This regulation is important for separated parents. Currently (August 2014), the entitled person receives 190 Euro for each of the first two children, 196 Euro for the third child and 221 Euro for the fourth and each successive child.
If you have an employment contract with Bielefeld University, and are therefore employed in the public sector, you will receive your child benefits directly from your employer, together with your monthly salary.
All parents are eligible for parental allowance if they personally want to take on the main responsibility for rearing their newborn child during the first 14 months, and are therefore unable to take up full-time employment. Elterngeld is paid to fathers and mothers for a maximum of 14 months, and the two parents can divide this period up between them as they choose. One parent can receive Elterngeld for a maximum of 12 months; the other 2 months are reserved as an option for the other parent. It will be paid 65-80% of your last twelve-months-salary as a replacement for the salary that you lose by staying home instead of working.
You can download the application form for parental allowance from the Internet pages of the Amt für Jugend und Familie or here. Print it out, fill it in, and send it to the Elterngeldstelle Bielefeld.
You can obtain further information on Elterngeld from the web pages of the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Federal Ministry for the Family, Seniors, and Youth) or at the webpage of Euraxess.
The Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz, MuSchuG) grants particular protection to all employed women during pregnancy and after giving birth.
This protection also applies to international researchers who are employed in Germany.
Maternity benefits are paid by the statutory health insurers during the maternity period (6 weeks before and 8 weeks after birth). You have to give them a certificate from the future mother's medical practitioner specifying the anticipated birth date. In addition, you must have been insured by a statutory health insurer for at least 12 weeks between the fourth and the tenth month of pregnancy and you must be able to confirm that you have an employment contract.
You have to apply for maternity benefits with your statutory health insurer. If you are employed at the beginning of the Mutterschutzfrist and insured with a statutory health insurer, you are entitled to maternity benefits equal to your net income calculated on the basis of your income of the last three calendar months. Your insurer and your employer pay this jointly.