What politics does

Building bridges in early education

Good child day care enables equal opportunities for all children. Child day care can make an important contribution to social integration, especially for children with a refugee background. They make contacts and learn the German language quickly. So far, however, not all families have benefited equally from child day care as a form of early education – although in Germany all children from the age of one have a legal right to a place in child care. Families with a refugee background in particular have found it difficult to find their way to child day care for a variety of reasons. With the federal programme “Kita-Ensieg: Brücken bauen in frühe Bildung” (“Kita Entry: Building Bridges in Early Education”), the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs is therefore promoting low-threshold offers that prepare and support access to child day care.

Language as the key to integration

The structured everyday life and the child-friendly environment in day-care centres and day-care centres allow the children to feel safe. In addition, childcare facilities offer the best conditions for children to quickly learn the German language and make contact with other children. Children learn very quickly: after just a few months, they can usually communicate well in German. Childcare in a day-care centre improves their educational opportunities, conveys values and enables parents to attend language courses, take up gainful employment or an apprenticeship. Children with a refugee background should therefore be able to attend a daycare centre as quickly as possible.

Language is an important key to integration. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has therefore launched the federal programme “Sprach-Kitas: Weil Sprache der Schlüssel zur Welt ist” (“Language-Kitas: Because language is the key to the world”). Nationwide, offers of language education in day-care centres are promoted. Further focal points are inclusive education and cooperation with families.

Other initiatives of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

More and more mothers and fathers are looking for a place to look after their child. Due to the rising birth rate and the integration of children with a refugee background, the demand for childcare places will continue to rise in the future. In order for all children to find a place in the nursery or in the day care centre, the number of care places in the municipalities must be further expanded.

With the fourth investment programme “Childcare Financing 2017 to 2020”, the Federal Government is providing the Länder with financial assistance for the expansion of childcare places for the fourth time. With the “Act on the Further Quantitative and Qualitative Expansion of Child Day Care”, 100,000 additional childcare places can be created, for the first time also for children from the age of three until they start school. Qualitative improvements can also be promoted. The special fund “Childcare Expansion” will be increased by a total of 1.126 billion euros.

Poverty-affected children of newly immigrated Union citizens often live in exclusion. All the more reason to support their integration and access to education. From 2019, the European Aid Fund for the Most Disadvantaged (EHAP) will provide targeted support for the entry of these children into daycare. Their families will be accompanied for up to six months in the future in order to ensure a successful start in the day care centre and thus in our education system. This means that the focus of the second round of the programme will be on early childhood development and strengthening the language skills of newly immigrated children.

The EHAP has a total budget of 93 million euros to help people experiencing poverty and exclusion to access local or regional assistance. Together with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth is pursuing the goal with EHAP of improving the living conditions of particularly disadvantaged newly immigrated Union citizens, including parents with their pre-school children.

The integration of the refugees takes place locally in the communities. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has launched the federal programme “Welcome to Friends” in order to support the municipalities in this task and to strengthen their voluntary commitment. The federal programme is implemented jointly with the German Children and Youth Foundation (DKJS) and the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration.

The “Quality on Site” programme is a joint action of the German Children and Youth Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs and the Jacobs Foundation. It supports regional actors in early education and is therefore also ideally suited to questions of child day care for refugee families.

Nationwide, numerous parental guides already support the integration of families with a refugee background. Through concrete assistance and accompaniment of families when the children enter a day care centre or school, parental guides are important bridge-builders for the social participation of refugee families. From 2017 to 2020, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs is supporting the further development of refugee-related parental accompaniment with a new model programme. The aim is to strengthen networks of parental guides from various institutions and refugee families. Parental guidance should thus be anchored in the social space in a sustainable way. The model programme builds on the federal programme “Parental Opportunity is Child Opportunity” (2011 – 2015) and the ESF federal programme “Parental Opportunity II – Encouraging Families to Attend Education Early” (2015 – 2020). To date, around 7,000 parental guides have been qualified under the two programmes.

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Christina Cherry
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