The lack of day care places also affects Ukrainian children

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Of: John Victimman

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Since August 2020, several day care groups from Holthausen have been in the rebuilt church in Oestertal. But this is a temporary solution. According to the youth welfare committee, up to four extra groups must be planned for the forthcoming conversion of Holthausen primary school to a day care institution. (Photo) © Opfermann, Johannes

Even now, the need for day care places for children under the age of three can not be met. In addition, there are Ukrainian refugee children of kindergarten age, for whom places are also needed. The Youth Welfare Committee therefore addressed on Thursday (May 19) the question of how additional care options could be created.

Plettenberg – SPD had put the topic on the agenda with a proposal to create additional groups when Holthausen Folkeskole was transformed into a modern day care institution. “We have almost 100 places for children under three who are missing,” said Renate Chowanetz (SPD). Therefore, planning and construction during the forthcoming renovation should be carried out in such a way that the most urgent needs can be met. In addition to the five existing day care groups in Holthausen, some of which are housed in a converted church in Østertal, the SPD believes that four additional groups could be established, namely two groups of group type 2 (3 months to 3 years) and two in group form 1 (2-6 years), so that 22 places could be created for under-three.

“Getting out of underfunding”

The administrative template was worded more flexibly: there were up to four groups. A conscious decision, as Mayor Ulrich Schulte explained: “We must not just limit ourselves to Holthausen.” Also in other day care institutions – not only those run by the city, but also by other providers – one has to look at where there are spatial reserves to find further to create places. That is exactly what Dietmar Rottmann (CDU) had previously demanded. “It is important that we get away from the underfunding,” he stressed, referring to overcrowded day care centers, which are sometimes on the “border of legality”, and to too few staff. You should also ask other day care workers what extensions they are planning.

Bernd Paulus (SPD) pointed out that even if there was agreement on the creation of new spaces, it could be problematic to find the right staff.

The unanimous decision did not only include the order to include up to four additional groups in the planning of the redevelopment of the Holthausen area. The administration should also draw up a roadmap to address the underfunding of day care places – such as the proposed breadwinner request – and present an initial report for the autumn.

There is a need for 25 places for Ukrainian children

The need for additional day care places was also made clear by the fact that the Ukrainian refugees include not only school-age children but also day care children.

The numbers have stabilized, there are not as many Ukrainians assigned or who have traveled to Plettenberg, explained youth welfare director Michael Schröder in the youth welfare committee. Students have been cared for, tested and divided into school types, and there are also welcome groups available so they can learn German as a first step. According to school authority head Wilk, there are currently about 80 students, including 37 in high schools, 35 in elementary schools and eight in vocational colleges. Five Ukrainian children were accommodated in the well-established group at the Martin Luther School, where pre-school children who do not speak German and do not have a place in a day-care center are prepared for school.

In addition, there are 45 children between zero and six years, ie children of daycare age, according to Michael Schröder. The mothers had been written to for the past few weeks – in German and Ukrainian – to determine the need for day care. 22, so about half have reported back. “For children older than one year, parents want childcare as soon as possible, for children under one year, parents want childcare for about a year.” Converted, this means a need for about 25 day care places for Ukrainian children. “We do not have these capabilities at the moment,” Schröder said. He estimated that the ratio would be around one-third of children of daycare age and two-thirds of school age if there were no more assignments in the coming weeks.

Rotation on forest day care area

However, there was good news to report for the day care institution Himmelmert. An educational forest area was to be created on an outdoor area at Am Steinacker, not far from the day care institution. After a long standstill, Michael Schröder was able to report to the committee that the construction vehicle to be erected on the site has been ordered and is expected to be delivered in October or November, when the use of the site becomes more difficult due to the weather. Greenhouses and tool storage must also be built, beds made, fruit trees and berry bushes planted.

Apart from minor details that needed to be clarified during the planning, there is nothing that stands in the way of the plan to start with the concept on 1 August. It was originally intended that a group should use the space all year round, but when the parents in the day care institution wanted all children to be included in the concept, it was changed, says Schröder. “There is now the option of a rotation every eight weeks so that all children can enjoy the area and experience different weather and growth periods.”

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