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Germany short of nearly 380,000 daycare spots for children

May 7, 2023

The Left Party accused the German government of underfunding childcare and bringing it to a brink of collapse following a parliamentary inquiry into daycare facilities.

Backpacks hanging at a daycare center in Germany's Brandenburg state
The federal government provided €2.8 billion for the building of daycare centers, but The Left says €50 billion are neededImage: Christian Bark/dpa-Zentralbild/picture alliance

A parliamentary inquiry found that Germany lacked 378,000 spots in daycare facilities for pre-school children in 2021, according to Family Affairs Ministry figures.

The findings came as a response to a parliamentary inquiry by the opposition Left Party released to German media on Sunday.

The Left Party spokeswoman for children and youth policies Heidi Reichinnek decried the federal government's lack of action on the subject. She said that children in Germany "are being denied the opportunity for early childhood education and social learning," despite having a legal right to daycare from the age of 1.

"But instead of the federal government seeing these figures as a reason to support municipalities and the states appropriately in expanding day care centers, they withdraw further from responsibility," Reichinnek said.

Leftist party warns of disparity between funding and needs

She said the parliamentary inquiry showed that the federal government provided just €2.8 billion ($3.1 billion) for the building of daycare centers across Germany.  

According to Reichinnek, almost €50 billion was required annually to meet the current demand for daycare centers. The Left Party representative added that, in her view, the chronically underfunded system was close to collapse.

In the absence of additional federal funding, local municipalities and federal states were left to fill the gaps, Reichinnek said. 

The gap between the demand and daycare capacity seems most acute in the western part of the country. German government currently projects that between 244,000 and 310,000 more children under the age of 3 will be needing a daycare spot in western Germany by 2030. In the former eastern Germany, which holds roughly one-fifth of Germany's total population, around  a maximum of 5,600 additional places are expected to be needed by 2030.

A wide ranging study by the Family Affairs Ministry in 2020 found that 49% of parents with children under 3 said they require child care. Of these, only 24% is able to secure the number of hours they need to be covered with a nanny or at a day care center. 

jcg/dj (dpa, AFP, EPD)