New data on reliability of public childcare

10 years introduction of the legal right to childcare from the age of 1. To this end, we have asked in the latest wave of our Labour Force Panel how reliably the care is guaranteed – for those who have a spot…

First, as a background, a few figures on the current situation: on 1.3.22, 35.5% of U3 children were in day care. Although this is a steady increase (10 years ago: 29%), this figure is rather low by international standards.

Important: there is a clear difference between the real childcare rate and the need rate – in other words: more parents want places than there are – according to the BMFSFJ the difference is 13.6 percentage points. According to the BIB, there is a shortage of 290,000 places for U3-year-olds.

Also important: the quality of care, for which the care key is usually used. Here, the desired standard is one caregiver for every 3 full-time children to be cared for. Here, the value ’22 for groups with U3 children was 4.0 (W 3.5; O 5,5).

Although more than 200,000 more skilled workers have been added since the daycare entitlement has been in ➡️force, experts estimate that there is currently a shortage of around 98,600 educators in the daycare sector, and by 2030 there could be over 230,000 unfilled positions.

Summing up the situation: the objective of the law is not being met. In view of this situation, we at WSI wanted to know to what extent reliable care is guaranteed for those who have a childcare place. To this end, we asked working and job-seeking parents with children in daycare or with the childminder – as part of our latest, now 10th survey wave of the Labour Force Panel (data from July ’23).

Findings: 57% of employed or job-seeking parents with children in daycare/childminders have recently been confronted with reductions in childcare time and/or temporary closures of facilities due to staff shortages (38% closures; 47% reductions in childcare time).

This poses major problems for many parents in their everyday lives: 67% of those surveyed stated that they find the loss of childcare or the shortening of time stressful (30% even as “very stressful”).

How do parents compensate for this? Almost half of the affected mothers and fathers took leave or reduced overtime during the closure or reduction of childcare time in order to compensate for the childcare gap. ~30% had to temporarily reduce their working hours.

A characteristic gender-specific difference can be seen in how often partners are involved: 63% of the fathers surveyed stated that their partner had stepped in for childcare, but only 33% of the mothers reported this about their partner.

Taken together, this indicates that for many of the parents who have one of the coveted childcare places for their children, care is often not reliably guaranteed – with the corresponding consequences (own burden and work-life balance). The worsening shortage of staff also has problematic consequences for educators. Studies traced the widespread overload and enormous psychological stress in the occupational group, which make the profession less attractive.

What to do? There is no quick solution to the problem – the result of years of development and omissions. It is important to upgrade the profession and make it more attractive: urgently improve working conditions in educational professions; better pay. Ein weiterer Ansatz, den auch Bettina Kohlrausch im Systemrelevant-Podcast diskutiert, wäre eine Ausbildungsoffensive für Erziehungsberufe, gekoppelt an deutlich bessere Personalschlüssel.

The advance publication of the childcare figures from the latest wave of the Labour Force Panel can also be read here in the press release:

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