Germany will be short of 384.000 daycare spaces next year
Every child in Germany has the right to a place in childcare after their first birthday - at least in theory. But despite government attempts to expand availability, a new study from the Bertelsmann Foundation has estimated that 384.000 children will be without a childcare place next year, putting a real pressure on parents attempting to return to work following the birth of a child.
Childcare in short supply nationwide, particularly in western Germany
Despite a law that came into effect nearly 10 years ago, legally enshrining the right to childcare for all children in Germany over the age of one, hundreds of thousands of toddlers and children will not have a place in daycare in 2023, according to a new forecast by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
The study, published this week, shows that demand continues to exceed supply almost everywhere in the country, but particularly in the western federal states, where 362.400 children are expected to be without a place in 2023, compared to 21.200 in the eastern part of the country.
The differences from state to state are enormous: the need is greatest in North Rhine-Westphalia, which is short 101.600 childcare places. In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Thuringia, on the other hand, there are enough places to meet demand.
Shortage of daycare spaces especially severe for under-threes
Overall, the lack of spaces is worse among the under-threes than among older children. The vast majority (92 percent) of children over the age of three attend a daycare facility, although according to the study 96 percent of parents in this age group state they want childcare.
Among younger children, the shortage is much more severe: in the western states, 31 percent of under-threes were in daycare last year, but 44 percent of parents reported a need for childcare. In eastern Germany, more than 50 percent were in daycare, but 60 percent reported a need.
“Despite the massive expansion of daycare centres in recent years, too many parents are still unable to find a place for their children,” said Anette Stein, an expert on early child education at the Bertelsmann Foundation, SPIEGEL reports. “This is intolerable in two respects: parents have to organise the care themselves, while the children are denied their right to professional support in early education.”
The foundation said that two things were required to expand supply: money and staff. An additional 98.600 jobs would need to be created nationwide, at a cost of 4,3 billion euros per year. As a short-term solution, they also suggest reducing childcare hours in order to make places available for more children.