Family: More money for quality: The Bundestag passes a daycare law

After weeks of sometimes very heated debates, the Bundestag passed a new law for more quality in daycare care.

Family: More money for quality: The Bundestag passes a daycare law

After weeks of sometimes very heated debates, the Bundestag passed a new law for more quality in daycare care. The traffic light factions of the SPD, Greens and FDP and, surprisingly, the AfD voted for the government draft for the so-called Kita Quality Act on Friday afternoon. The MEPs rejected the plan, the left abstained.

With the law, the federal government wants to place a stronger focus on the quality of child day care. The federal government is making almost four billion euros available to the federal states for this purpose over the next two years. They are supposed to use the money for the most part to advance "fields of action of primary importance": These include promoting early childhood education, good nutrition or language development.

"We've really achieved a lot - and that's why we're investing in quality now," said Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) on Friday. According to Paus, the number of children who are cared for in day-care centers until they start school has risen by more than 30 percent to 3.4 million in the past 15 years. In 2021, more than 860,000 people worked in day care centers and day care. "More people than in the automotive industry," said Paus, pointing out that a lot depends on this area - including the children's later opportunities.

criticism from the opposition

Partly violent criticism came from the opposition. The deputy leader of the Union parliamentary group, Dorothee Bär (CSU), accused the government of "false labeling". In truth, the traffic light is not about better quality, but solely about relieving parents of daycare contributions, said Bär. That's what the money should be spent on. "This is outrageous." Politicians from the traffic light factions sharply rejected this claim.

The Left complained in turn that the federal government was not spending enough money. "This is not a quality law, it is a cut law," complained the left-wing family politician Heidi Reichinnek. Your parliamentary group called for six billion euros a year instead of almost two billion. After all, there is also a lot of money for other areas. "Where is the special fund for children?" Reichinnek asked, referring to the 100 billion euro special fund for the Bundeswehr.

There were also violent attacks from the ranks of the AfD parliamentary group, which in the end surprisingly voted for the bill. The education policy spokeswoman for the parliamentary group, Nicole Höchst, accused the government of having the wrong priorities and warned of the "fall of Germany as an educational nation".

Federal Council still has to agree

With the passing of the law in the Bundestag, the last hurdle has not yet been cleared: In its next regular session on December 16th, the Bundesrat still has to approve the Kita Quality Act - otherwise it cannot come into force. In order to accommodate the countries, the traffic light had recently made some changes.

For example, the federal government will continue to finance the "Language Kitas" funding program until the summer of 2023, contrary to what was initially planned. Then, according to Paus, the federal states should continue the financing. The federal funding was originally supposed to expire at the end of the year - which had annoyed many countries.

The traffic light also gave way in another respect. In an original version, the new law was intended to oblige the federal states to stagger daycare fees in future according to certain social criteria, such as the parents' income or the number of children entitled to child benefit. Everything should stay with the status quo here.

It remains to be seen whether that will ultimately be enough to get the law through the Federal Council on December 16th.

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