Early education, care and child-raising underwent a dramatic change during the reporting period (in relation to the right to education, which also includes early education; see Chapter 8 (a)). The quantitative developments in child day-care before children start attending school were among the focuses of the German federal government, with the aim of improving the compatibility of family and work and counteracting discrimination against socioeconomically disadvantaged families. The introduction of a legal right to early-childhood support through a day-care facility in 2013, as well as billions of euros’ worth of investments in developing child day-care services saw a rise in care numbers: In 2017, one in three children under 3 and 93.6 percent of 3 to 5-year-olds – over 3.1 million children in total – were being looked after at over 50,000 child-day-care facilities and by approximately 44,000 child-minders.
But the demand for care placements also grew. The demand for care for children under 3 outdid supply in all federal states, with the average shortfall in 2017 being around 12 percent. By 2025, at least 600,000 additional placements are expected to be required for children in the years before they commence school.
There continues to be major differences between the federal states in terms of the meeting of demand, financing, parent contributions, skilled worker training, skills shortages, carer-to-child ratio, and scope of care. In eastern Germany, the agreed scope of care for children under 3 is, on average, 7 hours longer than in western Germany – and, at some 42 hours a week, longer than a working week for full-time employees.
However, given the growing scope of care, particularly for very young children, the qualitative challenge was not adequately overcome during the reporting period. The German act on further developing quality and on participation in child day-care (Gute-KiTa-Gesetz) has not succeeded in establishing nationwide quality standards. The idea of focusing educational work on children’s rights, on education in human and children’s rights, and, in particular, on upholding the right to co-determination has so far not been comprehensively established in the federal states’ early-education training and tertiary curricula (see Chapter 1 (g)).
For children with so-called migration backgrounds and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, the access barriers during the reporting period continued to be much greater than for other children. In some cases, this access is not available at all for refugee children. Although the percentage of children with so-called migration backgrounds rose and was 28 percent in 2017 , their involvement in education before starting school is behind that of their peers without so-called migration background. The number of children whose parents both have a so-called migration background, and children from first-generation migrant families, is especially low.
As quantities continue to grow, qualitative developments need to be successful. This is essential in order to achieve the education target of ‘developing the child’s personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential’ (Article 29 Paragraph 1a), and in view of the intention to ensure comprehensive, permanent participation right from the outset (in accordance with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).
- The National Coalition Germany recommends that the UN Committee call on the German federal government to
- 103. Develop nationwide quality standards for day-care centres and child-minders, geared around the best interests of the child;
- 104. Expressly refer to children’s rights in the Gute-KiTa-Gesetz for agreements between the federal and state governments, and in the elementary-level curricula for the states;
- 105. Eliminate access barriers to early-education services for families particularly in need. This includes effectively counselling parents on options for discounted contributions.