WBecause the financing of the so-called Good Daycare Act expires at the end of the year, the cabinet decided on Wednesday to spend almost four billion euros on better quality in daycare centers. In the next two years, the kindergartens are to be built according to the plans of the Federal Minister for Family Affairs Lisa Paus (Greens) specifically ensure better quality in childcare.
Paus therefore has the law in the tradition of her predecessor Franziska Giffey (SPD) called the “Kita Quality Act”. Specifically, investments are to be made “in qualified specialist staff, good equipment, health, nutrition and exercise. And quite explicitly also in language training,” said Paus after the cabinet meeting.
The federal states are no longer allowed to finance certain supposedly quality-enhancing steps, such as a reduction in daycare contributions, with federal funds. If childcare cannot be offered free of charge in a federal state anyway, parental contributions should be staggered nationwide according to mandatory criteria, so that parents with higher incomes also pay higher contributions.
Dispute over language daycare program
The next step towards more quality in day care centers and child day care should bring the quality development law with nationwide standards for child day care, which should come into force in this legislative period, announced Paus. Indirectly, the Federal Minister for Family Affairs admits that quality criteria played a subordinate role in the Good Daycare Act and that the focus was on increasing the number of children cared for, even if the former Minister for Family Affairs Giffey always denied this.
A clear reaction to the criticism of the Federal Minister for Family Affairs’ cutbacks can be seen in Paus’s statement that she wanted to attach particular importance to language training. With the announcement that the language day-care center program would be phased out at the end of the year, the Ministry for Family Affairs had angered not only politicians but also practitioners. There is now also a resolution on the Internet that advocates the preservation of the language day-care centers. If the quorum of 50,000 signatures is reached, there will be a hearing before the Petitions Committee of the German Bundestag.
Established ten years ago, the program enabled kindergartens to finance additional staff for language training. About every tenth day-care center had become a language day-care center. The outcry was all the greater when the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs announced at the beginning of July that it would stop financing the language day-care centers at the end of the year.
In view of the thousands of children who fled from the Ukraine, not only practitioners, but also the conference of youth and family ministers of the federal states saw this as the wrong signal at the wrong time. It was completely different in the coalition agreement: the traffic light parties had announced that they would lay a “foundation for a decade of educational opportunities”. The traffic light wanted to “further develop and consolidate the program of the ‘language day-care centres'”. This is no longer the case.
criticism of Lindner
The specialists from the language day-care centers take the federal finance ministers Christian Lindner (FDP) did not assume that the loss of funds for the language day-care centers would not lead to a worsening of the situation in the individual facilities. This is how Lindner described it in an interview on ARD and pointed out that the federal government would eventually make almost two billion euros available for the coming years.
The SPD member of the Bundestag Erik von Malottki criticized that the impression was created that there was additional money. He accuses the finance minister of “deceiving the public”. There is by no means more money for the language day-care centers. Federal Family Minister Paus played the ball back to the federal states and suggested that they finance the language day-care centers from their own resources. That is entirely possible with the law.
As with the Good Kita Act, the federal government will conclude contracts with all 16 states that are linked to the Kita Quality Act. The federal states can then invest the funds in more childcare positions, better pay for staff or longer opening times. Overall, they should put more than half of the funds into such measures.
Paus affirmed that all children in Germany “should have the chance of a good early childhood education, no matter where they live, no matter whether their parents are rich or poor”. The aim of the federal government is to have nationwide standards for daycare centers by the end of the legislative period, “so that the quality is equally high everywhere in the country”.
According to the ministry, a working group with representatives from the federal, state and local governments is to develop concrete proposals. The working group will meet for the first time at the end of August and will hold regular discussions with experts from associations, business and science.