Although Brandenburg’s day care centers have improved in terms of space and number of employees, there are still significant deficits in childcare. This is the conclusion reached by the Bertelsmann Foundation in its current country monitoring of preschool education systems. According to the study, 86 percent of daycare children in Brandenburg are cared for in groups whose staffing is not child-friendly. “The education mandate for most children cannot be implemented in this way,” says Kathrin Bock-Famulla, an expert in early childhood education at the Bertelsmann Foundation.
A daycare survey by the Päritätisches Gesamtverband came to a similar conclusion in June. In the survey, 89 percent of the daycare workers in Brandenburg were of the opinion that the children’s needs could not be met with the personnel key – more than in any other federal state.
Bertelsmann supports this assessment of the educators with figures. According to the foundation, the personnel ratio in the nursery groups per March 2021 arithmetically 1 to 5.1. This means that one full-time professional is responsible for more than five full-time children. This is less favorable than the national value of 1 to 3.9 and also falls below the 1 to 3 ratio recommended by the Bertelsmann Foundation. In the kindergarten groups, the staff ratio of 1 to 9.6 is also significantly worse than the national value of 1 to 8 4 and than the value recommended by Bertelsmann (1 to 7.5).
The country has promised improvements
With the new double budget, the state strives to improve the care ratio. In the nursery, the teacher-child ratio needs to be improved from 1 to 4.65 to 1 to 4.25, according to government data. By 2025, the goal is to aim for a ratio of 1 to 4, which is still above the ratio of one skilled worker for three nursery children recommended by Bertelsmann.
But Brandenburg still has a deficit when it comes to the number of day care places. “Measured in terms of care needs, there will probably be a shortage of up to 2,900 daycare places in the coming year,” reads the study. The need for space in Brandenburg differs according to age group: The proportion of children under three years of age who are looked after is 57 percent, below the care requirement of 63 percent. For children over three years of age, the difference between the quota of 95 percent and the need of 97 percent is smaller.
To create the necessary 2,900 additional places, according to Bertelsmann calculations, new specialists must be recruited by 2023. This would result in additional personnel costs of 26.3 million euros per year. Operating and possible construction costs for the new daycare places – in Brandenburg the municipalities are responsible for this – would be added. “The figures show that Brandenburg could meet the federal statutory right to a daycare place for every child whose parents have a need by 2023 by hiring more staff,” states Bertelsmann.
According to Bertelsmann, additional educators should be employed in Brandenburg
But only a day care center with high quality can support children in their education and development, believes Kathrin Bock-Famulla. “The state government must finally create the conditions to hire more staff in daycare centers through legislative reforms,” demands the educator. The Bertelsmann Foundation calculates that an additional 11,500 specialist doctors would have to be hired in order to achieve staffing ratios that correspond to scientific recommendations and at the same time be able to offer enough day care places. This would result in costs of over 550 million euros per year.
The new Kita Quality Act stipulates that the federal government will provide up to two billion euros for preschool education in all federal states in 2023 and 2024. The Bertelsmann Foundation recommends that Brandenburg primarily use these federal funds for better staffing.
The nationwide shortage of skilled workers is a double problem: Because too few employees in educational practice not only deteriorate the quality of pre-school education, but also the working conditions of the skilled workers. “This reduces the chances of retaining existing employees in the job, further exacerbating staff shortages,” the study says. In the daycare centers, it is important to reduce the overload of the staff in the short term. The foundation suggests that this can, for example, be achieved with more employees within housekeeping and administration.
In addition, the Bertelsmann Foundation recommends giving daycare managers fixed times for their management tasks and giving them time off from looking after the children. Bertelsmann quotes the child and youth welfare statistics. According to this, in 2021 in Brandenburg, six percent of the total of 1,964 day care centers and leisure centers had no contractually agreed time for management tasks. The state does not want to change anything about that either: “According to the coalition agreement, there are currently no concrete plans to improve the line release,” the Ministry of Education, led by Britta Ernst (SPD), responded in April to an inquiry from the AfD’s parliamentary group in the state parliament.
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