The war in Ukraine has mostly forced women and children to flee. Children who now have to be integrated into day care centers and schools in Germany. As of June 5, the Central Register of Foreigners recorded a total of 318,359 minors who had entered Germany since February 24 of this year in connection with the war in Ukraine. This resulted in a small request from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, which is available to WELT.
Of these children, 232,286 are of school age between six and 17 years, 49,149 are between three and five years of kindergarten age and 26,834 are between one and two years of nursery age. There are also 10,090 babies under the age of one.
131,054 Ukrainian children and young people are already being taught at German schools, as the Conference of Ministers of Education has determined on the basis of reports from the federal states. But while the data for the school children is updated weekly, the federal government is groping in the dark with regard to the integration of the refugee children in the day-care centers.
The Ministry of Family Affairs answered all questions about the number of children already admitted to day-care centers, the additional space requirement and additional costs incurred, stereotypically with non-responsibility: “According to the Basic Law, the federal states are responsible for child day-care on their own. The federal government has no information on this.”
In its response to the Union faction, the ministry only refers to the decision by the federal and state governments at the beginning of April to give the states and municipalities a total of two billion euros in 2022 to support the additional expenses for those seeking protection from Ukraine. “About one billion euros of this should be used to contribute to the costs of the federal states, for example for childcare and schooling as well as health and care costs,” says the Ministry for Family Affairs. The funds are made available to the federal states via an increased share of the sales tax.
The ministry was unable to answer the Union’s question as to how much money the federal government would use to support the federal states in taking Ukrainian children into day-care facilities and day care. The funds are “to be used locally by the federal states in their areas of responsibility”.
The family policy spokeswoman for the Union faction, Silvia Breher (CDU), called the answers “disappointing”. “Instead of using the request as both an incentive and an order to collect urgently needed needs in the area of early childhood education and childcare at the federal level, the traffic light pushes away any responsibility.” Breher criticizes that questions are either not answered at all or only incompletely: “It there seems to be no interest in getting a full picture of the situation.”
The traffic light should now “finally show its colors and communicate honestly that it cannot meet the challenges of this time”. Above all, more day-care places are needed for the more than 75,000 Ukrainian children of day-care age who have already arrived and are entitled to day-care, Breher demanded. The Union has therefore proposed an accelerated investment program to expand childcare. “In the meantime, many desperate mayors’ applications for additional funds for childcare measures have come to nothing, since all funds from the last investment program for 2020 to 2021 have already been tied up,” said Breher WELT.
In addition, the successful specialist offensive for educators, which expires this summer, urgently needs to be continued and further developed. For counter-financing, the Union suggested using unused funds from the “Live Democracy” program. From the funding pot of 150.5 million euros, only 116 million euros were accessed in 2021.
The federal states are also hoping for a continuation of the so-called Good Daycare Act, which expires in 2022. In its coalition agreement, the traffic light coalition spoke out in favor of continuing the program that promotes the quality development of day-care centers.
The cabinet is currently still in budget negotiations. On Wednesday, the heads of the SPD, Greens and FDP want to meet for a coalition committee. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) insists that the federal government once again comply with the debt brake suspended in the corona pandemic.
Bavaria’s Family Minister Ulrike Scharf (CSU) emphasized that the continuation and financing of the measures initiated on the basis of the “Good Daycare Act” is an “immense concern of all countries”. “We are still waiting for reliable and concrete statements from the federal government so that the federal states can continue all the measures that have already been taken,” said Scharf. “We are running out of time where we have invested in additional staff. The new Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Lisa Paus, must finally commit to the day-care centers in the state.”
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