According to a study, Hess will need an additional 25,000 teachers by 2030. There is already a huge need for additional daycare places. Despite the legal entitlement, not all parents get a place.
Written by Petra Buberg and Kristen Rotten
Climbing, sliding and hiding: While their mother is working, Mika and Felix are wandering the nanny’s garden. But by the end of October, that will be over. In fact, after their third birthday, the twins have to go to the day nursery in Mörfelden-Walldorf (Groß-Gerau). Mother Bianca, who did not want her family name to be read in the media, counted on two daycare places. But in April came the cancellation.
For Bianca, this means that she must give up her 30-hour job as an industrial employee for at least a year. Since the nanny is also fully booked until August 2024, the contract can no longer be extended. Financially, it’s a disaster, says Bianca. “My husband and I don’t get huge salaries.” Can a family live well on both incomes together, but only on one? You will have a hard time.
Waiting lists for daycare places are long
In addition to twins Micah and Felix, 154 children are currently waiting for the last daycare place in the city of 35,000. Many other families in Hesse are also on waiting lists for daycare places. Although there are 54,550 places in Frankfurt, more than 3,000 children have not yet received a place. 5.5 percent more places will have to be created. Also in Wiesbaden, there will be an additional demand of at least 5.6 per cent.
According to government statistics office data, 32.5 percent of all children under the age of three in Hesse are cared for in a daycare center or nursery school. For children under six, the figure is close to two-thirds.
Legal eligibility of one year
Significant regional differences exist in the care of children under three years of age: in Bad Hochtaunus and Marburg, the rate of childcare is above average by about 49 and 45 percent, respectively, in Hanau (21 percent) and Rüsselsheim (15 percent). Particularly few young children are in Kitas or daycare.
All parents have a legal entitlement since 2013: the municipalities must provide a place in the nursery for every child over one year old. But in practice, as in many other sectors, one thing in particular is lacking: qualified personnel.
25,000 teachers needed by 2030
In Mörfelden-Walldorf, the district has not been able to provide enough childcare places for years. Now, desperate parents have joined forces in an initiative to put pressure on politicians. City Councilman Carsten Gross (CDU), who has been in charge of all 1,655 daycare places in Mörfelden-Walldorf for a year, says he can fully understand the concerns and needs.
A new woodland daycare center is set to open in the city in October, and he’d like to invest more, Gross says. But he doesn’t know where the staff comes from. The market is empty.
The problem is likely to get worse in the future: according to an estimate by the Bertelsmann Foundation, there could be a shortage of 25,000 teachers by 2030. So in Germany there are 230,000.
Educators complain of high pressure
City councilor Gross says the fact that the profession is not attractive to many is no longer because of the money. “Many employees tell us that working conditions are the problem.”
Vera Mingler would probably expect it. She worked as a teacher for ten years, and since the beginning of the year has also been speaking for the Association of Day Care Professionals. Groups are often very large, there is a lot of bureaucracy, work schedules go long and more children need individual support, she says. “You always feel like you’re among all the worlds and can’t even focus on a child.” One of the children had to be constantly rolled and the other calmed. Most of the time the teacher is alone with 20 other kids.
Mingler fears that the persistently high level of stress among her colleagues will lead to further mental illness. A survey by the German Institute for Economic Research shows that 69 percent of teachers are already under time pressure. 81 percent suffer from low salaries, 32 percent would like to reduce their working hours, but are unable to do so for various reasons.
The coronavirus pandemic has created an additional burden: Compared to the previous year, sickness-related absences increased by 13 percentage points, according to health insurance company DAK. No other professional group has recorded such a large increase in sick days.
Where young children learn German in particular
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, language barriers are always a challenge for educators. At the day care center “Kleiner Bär” in north Kassel, for example, the proportion of immigrants is particularly high, says Catherine Lensing. “We also take care of many children of refugee families.” Not many people have spoken a word of German before. “We usually start from scratch.”
Educators receive support from Catherine Rubble. The language specialist works specifically for twenty hours a week with children who do not yet speak German well. Their work is funded through a federal program. There are 544 language day care centers in the state of Hesse, which is about the eighth day care center.
Funding for language day care centers ends
However, the director of the Linsing daycare center does not know how language support will continue in the future. With the federal funding program ending in 2023, the state government was not yet ready to step in. 15.5 million euros fell from nurseries.
After all, the federal government just got a new government KITA Quality Code It passed, which promises more support measures, more teachers and more daycare places.
But that won’t help Bianca and her twins Mica and Felix anymore. She says the situation is driving her crazy, she is frustrated. Of course she loves being a mother, “but I didn’t have three years of training and did two years of extra training so now I can watch and sing Maya the Bee all day.” It’s part of her world, but not her whole world. After all: In September 2023, she now received a commitment to two daycare places.
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