Unbreakable: My First Wimmel Book: A Day at the Daycare Centre
Sibyl Schumann, German
A study concludes that the staff shortage in German daycare centres is jeopardising the safety of the children in their care.
The common call in the morning: on one end a tired parent who has to go to work, on the other end a childminder surrounded by screaming children. Would it be possible to leave the child at home today or take advantage of another childcare option?
What sounds like an absolute exception is increasingly becoming the norm in Germany. A study by the Verband Bildung und Erziehung (VBE) comes to the conclusion that the staffing situation at German daycare centres has deteriorated dramatically. A total of 5387 daycare centre managers were surveyed.
Almost two thirds of the daycare centre managers surveyed stated that they had had to work with too few employees for more than 20 per cent of their working hours in the past twelve months. Extrapolated, this means that 10,000 of the 60,000 daycare centres in Germany were understaffed to such an extent that they were no longer able to fulfil their supervisory duties. "On average, these daycare centres were only able to maintain operations on more than every second day by endangering the safety of the children in their care," said Toni Neckov, Vice President of the VBE, at the presentation of the study. In 64 per cent of crèches with children under the age of three and in 78 per cent of groups with children up to the age of four, the childcare ratio is worse than scientifically recommended: This suggests a ratio of one educator to three toddlers or seven to eight preschool children.
The number of centres that can no longer guarantee reliable childcare at times has doubled within a year. Seven out of ten daycare centre managers stated that the staff shortage was having a negative impact on the core mission of the facility - early childhood education. Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed said that educational programmes had to be cancelled due to staff shortages.
In addition, the educators still employed are often on sick leave. And the staff who have to cope with the situation often draw the consequences: a quarter of the daycare centre managers surveyed stated that there had been an increase in redundancies in their facilities. "These are alarming results that make it clear that politicians are not fulfilling their legal responsibilities," warns Neckov. The dismissals are an "urgent call for help and an obligation to act."
However, the study also revealed some positive findings. It found that eight out of ten daycare centre managers enjoy their job. This is because they and their employees experience a high level of appreciation on the job: be it from the parents or the children themselves, but also from the providers, for example. However, the study revealed that daycare centre staff hardly feel valued by politicians.
A cross-national Unicef study from 2021 came to the conclusion that Switzerland also has some catching up to do when it comes to childcare: According to the study, there are around 18.2 children for every carer. However, the extent to which the childcare ratio jeopardises the safety of children was not examined. Other points of criticism included the very high costs in some cases and the fact that only a third of parents of children up to the age of three use the services on sale at all. Switzerland was ranked 38th out of the 41 countries analysed. Germany, on the other hand, performed comparatively well, coming in 5th place after Luxembourg, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.Cover photo: Pexels/Oleksandr Pidvalnyi