The federal and state governments have agreed on the financing of the legal right to all-day care for primary school children. The Bundestag had already passed a corresponding law in June – but then the states stopped the plans. The federal government, so their argument, is only insufficiently involved in the financing of the new childcare places to be created. The mediation committee of the Bundestag and Bundesrat discussed the project on Monday evening – and came to an agreement late in the evening.
This means that every child who starts school from 2026 should be entitled to all-day care in the first four years of school. The agreement comes just in time, so that the Bundestag and Bundesrat will probably be able to resolve the compromise shortly before the end of the legislative period by the end of next week. Failure, on the other hand, would have meant that nothing would come of the law for the time being.
Before the decisive negotiations, parent and child rights associations had pushed for an agreement. Miriam Hoheisel, federal manager of the Association of Single Mothers and Fathers, said the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Failure would be a bitter pill, especially for single parents, as they can hardly pursue a living wage without adequate childcare.”
CDU boss Laschet speaks of a “milestone”
Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock had also asked before the committee meeting that the federal and state governments find a solution. “If we want children to have a good start in life, then we have to do more, especially in elementary schools,” said Baerbock German press agency.
Baerbock’s party colleague Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, criticized the funding initially proposed by the Bundestag in June. The federal government wanted to contribute a maximum of 30 percent or around one billion euros per year to the operating costs of the care places. Kretschmann demanded at least 50 percent, other state governments also demanded that the federal government should make more money available.
As previously promised, the federal government will now contribute up to 3.5 billion euros in investment costs – for example for construction work at primary schools. “A shovel on top”, as it was called, was mainly due to the participation in the running costs for the operation of the all-day places. Here, the federal government wants to support the federal states with 1.3 billion euros per year in the long term, 300 million more per year than recently promised.
In some federal states – especially in the east – there is already dense all-day care. In other countries, many new places still need to be created. It is estimated that there is a need for 600,000 to 800,000 places.
Politicians welcome the compromise
Politicians from the federal and state levels welcomed the compromise that has now been reached. Union Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet (CDU) said the German press agency: “Today is a good day for families in Germany. The legal right to all-day places at elementary schools is a milestone for the compatibility of family and work.”
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU), who took part in the negotiations, spoke of a “very good evening” for families and children. “With the compromise that the federal and state governments have found, one of the very big, important projects of this government and this legislative period is now being implemented.”
Federal Family Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said that the full-time entitlement in elementary school age is an important step in setting the course for more fairness in education and a better work-life balance. “With all-day education and care offers, we ensure that all children have good opportunities, regardless of their origins and their parents’ wallet.” The parliamentary managing director of the SPD parliamentary group, Carsten Schneider, assessed the agreement as a great step forward for children and families who had previously borne considerable burdens in the pandemic.