Cornelia Spachtholz - Childcare

Childcare in Germany

From 1 August 2013, children in Germany who have reached their first birthday will have a legal right to a place in a childcare facility. We put three questions to Cornelia Spachtholz, chairwoman of the German Association of Working Mothers:

1. Ms Spachtholz, are you now satisfied with the conditions for childcare in Germany?

The legal entitlement to a place at a childcare facility is certainly a step in the right direction. Germany-wide, the situation in future will be better than it was in the past, though it will not be easy to implement the new law. By international standards, however, an average childcare ratio of 33 percent for infants is low if we take examples of best practice as our yardstick. Too much has been neglected in recent decades and this is something that cannot be simply erased.

2. Do you expect more women to go out to work if more childcare places are made available for even the youngest children?

Ever since the parental leave concept was introduced in 2007, a significant change has been noticeable on the labour market: women go back to work more quickly after the birth of a child, and part-time employment has risen. This will be accelerated as more childcare places become available, while demand for childcare will increase as labour market participation changes. It is no coincidence that too few childcare places are budgeted for in big cities.

3. What remain the biggest hurdles for mothers who want or need to go out to work?

We are committed to ensuring that everyone has the chance to choose the family model that suits them best. While childcare is an important factor in this entire business of balancing work and family, its effect is to “relieve pain” rather than to “cure”, to use an analogy from the medical world. And even if demand for childcare places for the very youngest children were to be satisfied, there would still be a problem when they reach school age. This is why we are calling for childcare from “0 to 14 plus”. All the different elements which dictate our daily timetable need to be coordinated in a more family-friendly manner – be it the opening times of childcare facilities, local authorities and service providers, or indeed the timetables of local public transport. A great deal is now happening in Germany, as we saw at the women&work women’s careers fair recently staged by our cooperation partner.


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