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Government Plans Better Daycare

The German government on Wednesday finalized a draft law to improve daycare for young children. In the proposal by Family Minister Renate Schmidt, starting next year, communities will have to expand their daycare offerings for under-three-year-olds such that they meet the parents' needs. Schmidt said this would mean the creation of 230,000 additional daycare places by 2010. The law represents an "important contribution to our country's ability to innovate, and to equality of opportunity," Schmidt said. Her goal is to enable more women to combine career and family life. She rejected criticism of the plan by local authorities that expanded daycare offerings would create too much of a financial burden. Through the consolidation of unemployment support and social welfare starting in 2005, local authorities stand to save as much as €2.5 billion ($3.1 billion) a year, Schmidt said.