How do families afford a day care center?

In: Kita aktuell NRW, 02/2006, pp. 31-34.

The future of daycare centers are family centers!

Ulrich Braun

The new state government in North Rhine-Westphalia has set itself the goal of developing a day-care center into a family center in every youth welfare office district in North Rhine-Westphalia in the 2006/2007 kindergarten year and, in the medium term, turning every third day-care center into a family center.

Tasks beyond "education, care and upbringing of children" and "preschool language support" should include, for example, the placement of child minders and child minders and the support of families through more intensive cooperation in or outside of the day-care centers - with offers of family support such as family counseling, family education, ASD and family care services. A competition has been announced that aims to highlight and promote "best practice" examples.

With a "family center" one has an "institutional" idea of ​​a "house for families" that unites various services under one roof. If you had a different idea, you would have to choose a different concept, e.g. the concept of a "family network".

The program of "developing day-care centers into a family center" also suggests that something new should be created that has not yet existed. But is this assumption correct?

Every day-care center is a (very) small "child and family center"

Every day care center already performs tasks that are constitutive for a "family center". Based on the assumption that "families should receive support" can be found in every day-care center

  • Elements of "cooperation with families" - such as parenting discussions, parenting advice, family celebrations, father work,
  • Elements of cooperation with institutions - such as early intervention, psychological counseling, therapists, social services, paediatricians,
  • Elements of language training - such as in connection with language acquisition and second language acquisition or working with speech therapists.

Not all day-care centers fully represent these elements, but it can at least be assumed that virtually all day-care centers ensure a minimum standard of "working with families". In addition, there is already a colorful network of supportive family services that go far beyond the minimum standard.

An example of a diverse network of supportive family services

Such a network will be presented using the example of the municipal day care facilities for children in Recklinghausen. Each sponsoring group or municipality could make a similar compilation for itself.

In Recklinghausen, every day-care center (cross-provider) with more than 30% children with a migration background systematically operates "pre-school language support", as the state government's ideas for "family centers" provide. A large number of mothers are reached through the "Rucksack" program, a family education offer for mothers and fathers to promote language skills in their first language and to deal with educational and psychological issues while accompanying their children as they grow up.

"PEKiP" groups (support for children in the first year of life) and mother-child play groups are offered under the umbrella of day-care centers for children.

An exercise program for Turkish mothers (and educators) takes place regularly in the early evening in a day-care center - Turkish mothers would never go to a sports club.

There is a clothing exchange in another day-care center. In practical terms, this means that parents make their children's clothing that they no longer need available to other parents free of charge in a special corner of the facility. You can then see again whether other parents have "discarded" something that they can still use themselves. The whole thing is not offset against each other, so that it is also a silent support for families in need.

Every day care center works closely with the psychological counseling center for children, young people and families. All lines are in training in order to be able to offer "parenting courses", which up to now have been offered by employees of the psychological counseling center or the German Child Protection Association ("strong parents, strong children"). In the future, managers - usually released from group work - will be able to carry out such offers themselves. This prevents waiting times and the limitation to individual offers.

The "Family and Neighborhood (FuN)" family project will in future be offered in day-care centers, as well as specially designed family counseling offers such as "Parents Driving License" or "MachMit", an offer for German mothers, arose from inquiries as to whether there was something like "Rucksack "Can't give to German mothers too.

Health offers for parents and children can be found in a Kneipp-certified day care center.

In a music-loving daycare center, all children who have long outgrown the facility are allowed to continue singing. The parents take care of the organization and the publication of the recorded CD.

Every day-care center knows the responsible contact person in the social service of the youth welfare office, and there is a regular exchange.

Every day-care center offers parents discussions and development documentation with the pediatrician before the U 8 and U 9 examinations.

Preventive measures such as a healthy breakfast or the use of "Bielefeld Screening" to avoid the development of reading and spelling weaknesses, including the Würzburg training program "Hearing, Listening, Learning", are applied in a standardized manner.

Such an - arbitrary - list underscores the thesis that all day-care centers are already part of a network of "child and family centers".

In contrast to the frequently discussed position that "children's and family centers" are particularly suitable for access to disadvantaged families, such a list makes it clear that a child and family-friendly city has low-threshold and can and should provide diverse support. A child- and family-friendly city must assume that the complex life situations of families in all levels of education can lead to problems and thus also to disadvantages for children.

That is why the image of a colorful carpet of low-threshold and diverse networked services for children and families that is controlled by youth welfare planning is more helpful than that of a single model family center. With this image, the day-care centers also get a little relief, because they are part of a carpet and not the only point of contact for families as a family center. And there is no competition between selected children's and family centers and other day-care centers that have lost in the competition for the status (and possible funding) of children's and family centers.

If every day care center is a little bit like a child and family center, is there anything to be done at all? Yes!

The further development of day-care centers for professional, low-threshold children's and family centers close to living areas is urgently required!

The already existing tiny children's and family centers need to be further developed professionally. The already woven carpet is still full of holes, started sooner than almost finished. Above all, the identifying features "low-threshold" and "close to living area" are not used enough in day-care centers for families.

Daycare centers are the best place for a low-threshold and residential area-related offer for families

Some families have known employees for many years, because some employees have been working in the facility for decades. Some former children are mothers themselves again. Usually there are already difficulties in families when the children come to the facility, and the educators usually know about them.

The day care center for children is ideally suited to approach families and offer help. The difficulties and problems that parents bring with them are most likely to be communicated to an educator in relation to the difficulties that children have in the facility. Here, support can be offered to a young family at an early stage and at a low threshold, if necessary with the help of the expertise of a counseling center or the youth welfare office. This makes the day care facility an "early warning system" for children.

But just "warning" is not enough in the long run - preventive support should be the goal. This will have effects, because longitudinal studies show that early support and prevention programs are able to effectively break the chains of effects between early childhood disorders and later problems. Properly designed prevention programs in preschool age can, for example, help to reduce delinquency in adolescence by half in certain high-risk groups. Sample calculations also show that early interventions are significantly more cost-effective than later interventions in adolescence when compared to costs.

Such preventive concepts can be implemented particularly effectively in manageable social spaces. Day care facilities are of central importance. The institutional biography usually begins with a visit to a day care facility for young families: Here, for the first time, a continuous insight into their family culture is possible and offers in the district that are important for young families can be conveyed.

It would be helpful for young families if they could find offers such as childbirth preparation, mother-and-child courses, childcare, daycare for children, advice on parenting issues, etc. in one place right from the start of pregnancy. Many parents do not have the necessary skills and resources to take advantage of the wide variety of support services for families in different locations. The lack of language, the lack of knowledge about possible offers, long journeys by bus, the lack of knowledge about the importance of early learning, etc. are obstacles that can prevent participation in a mother-child course, for example.

The resource "room" is available across the board as a property "day care facility for children". Although not in every individual case, the rooms are basically suitable for turning the day care center into a place where young families can meet in the social room. For example, day-care facilities can provide rooms for eating together, for meetings and celebrations, for advice, encounters, exchange and further training.

The support of young parents through conceptually combined offers close to the living area in one place would considerably expand the possibilities for parents to take advantage of offers. As a result, this will lead to an enormous increase in the competence of these parents in accompanying the growing up and bringing up their children.

Which structural conditions are essential for a permanently functioning family network in the district?

Each day care center will have its own concepts in a family network to support their families and for families beyond their day care center. This "network work" requires a time quota for "network management". Traditionally, "social space orientation" with participation in district conferences etc. is spoken of. This only goes with Time off (hours) for any management activity. It is already unreasonable for the management of day-care centers with up to 75 children and parents to do their child and family work without any time off. At the same time, the staff was already so scarce years ago that there are no longer any implicit release resources (relief through supplementary hours).

The excellent, award-winning model "MoKi Monheim for Children" teaches that one Coordinator activity in social rooms A prerequisite for the success of family networks is. A coordinating activity cannot be carried out successfully in the long term by self-organized working groups of day-care center managers or delegated employees from youth welfare offices, but a coordinator activity must be structurally anchored. In Monheim, for example, the coordinator position has been included in the establishment plan. Perhaps resources from family formation can be given new tasks here.

New networks in the city districts cannot be built up solely on the goodwill of the network actors. There are legal frameworks that make family-friendly support more difficult. That's why Rethink laws and agreementsthat are to the detriment of families. Therapists are not allowed to invoice therapies in day-care centers, which means that parents have to take advantage of the necessary therapies before or after the child's time in day-care center. When working full-time as a single parent, this becomes a major problem.

Why the future of day-care centers are children's and family centers!

The legislature demands further development!

Since 1991, the legislature has explicitly anchored support and promotion of families in Section 16 of Book VIII of the Social Code (KJHG): "Mothers, fathers, other legal guardians and young people should be offered general support for family upbringing. They should also be offered contribute to the fact that mothers, fathers and other legal guardians can better exercise their parenting responsibility. "

The amendments to SGB VIII (KJHG) in 2005 specified the cooperation with parents in the 3rd section "Promotion of children in day care facilities". Day care centers should:

  • support and supplement the upbringing and education in the family (§ 22 (2) 2.)
  • help parents to better combine work and child-rearing (§ 22 (2) 3.)
  • cooperate with other child and family-related institutions and initiatives in the community, especially those involved in family education and counseling (Section 22a (2) 2.)
  • orient the offer pedagogically and organizationally to the needs of the children and their families (§ 22 (3))

Day care centers in North Rhine-Westphalia are given a new profile

The decline in the number of children has already forced new concepts to be developed with regard to the structure of the offers. Children under three years of age and children with disabilities have increasingly been integrated into the concepts. Not only the demographic development, but also the relocation of school childcare to elementary schools - open all-day schools - has changed the offer profile.

The change in the start-up date also reduces the scope of the day-care facilities. North Rhine-Westphalia is gradually planning to start school on September 30th. - 31.12. - 31.03. to be adjusted so that at the end of this process children in North Rhine-Westphalia go to school at the age of 5. The first step will be the deadline of 09/30. in order to achieve the first goal, an average school entry age of 6.0 years. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the deadline for school enrollment is September 30th. relocated, in Berlin the deadline is December 31st. So younger and younger children and their parents will be the target groups of early childhood education concepts.

Family education is changing

The legal safeguarding of a needs-based offer for children under three years of age (§ 24 SGB VIII) changes the offers of family education. More and more children are in institutions earlier and earlier. More and more children are looked after in "acclimatization groups" two to three days a week outside of the family. The number of children who are cared for all day in day-care centers is increasing rapidly. In the western federal states, it is assumed that this has increased to 8% in the past few years. A distinction must be made between very young children under two years of age and children between two and three years of age. This age group is increasingly being looked after outside of the family. Reasons include a great interest in a quick return to work, and not only because disadvantages are feared or financial pressure makes the return necessary. More and more women no longer want to do without taking part in professional life because of a child, because they enjoy their job and want to integrate professional challenges into their life plans.

Family education is now more oriented towards schools and open all-day schools (e.g. dispute settlement), and it is approaching day-care centers with new concepts (offers of family education in day-care centers; prevention concepts such as "Family and Neighborhood (FuN)" etc.)

Equal opportunity begins in the children's and family center!

The results of PISA 2 have shown that the educational biography continues to depend almost exclusively on origin. Children's and family centers can offer low-threshold offers for all Achieving greater equity for families.

It will not be possible to implement this in the short term. Prerequisites for more equal opportunities are one Quality development of all day-care centers in a municipalitythat focuses on cooperation and development and not on competition and demarcation, and a "municipal education plan", which develops a conception of common educational goals and common design of the transitions for children from 0 to 16 years of age.

Using the example of language training and the closely related equal opportunities for children from immigrant families, these prerequisites can be understood. All child day-care centers need to make joint cross-provider educational efforts in order to achieve a common educational goal (to be able to follow the lessons of primary school ...). The common goal will also have to be to reach families earlier than when they entered kindergarten, i.e. when the children are between 0 and 3 years old. Funding has to be arranged more than 1,000 days earlier in order to achieve more equal opportunities. In order to achieve these goals, common target agreements between kindergarten and elementary school are required. Primary and secondary schools must also make joint arrangements so that more than the current 25% children from immigrant families can be brought to a vocational qualification.

The earlier families, especially so-called poorly educated and disadvantaged families, are reached, the greater the chance of supporting early childhood educational processes. For this purpose, low-threshold and near-residential areas are available Family networks, linked by day-care centers, is an excellent opportunity. They must be linked with the actors "around the child" as immediately as possible across the board. Our society cannot and must not afford to leave behind even one child who could make more of their opportunities if they received the necessary support.


The article is based on a presentation given at a workshop within the framework of the GEW-NRW - symposium "Poverty Disadvantaged - Education Creates Opportunities" on November 19, 2005 in Bochum.


Braun, Ulrich: Daycare in the network. A whole village is needed for successful youth welfare. In: KiTa aktuell 1/2001, pp. 17-19.

Braun, Ulrich: "House for Children" - Daycare Concept of the Future? In: KiTa aktuell NRW, 03/2002, pp. 68-69.

Diller, Angelika / Riedel, Birgit: Parent-Child Centers. The new generation of institutions promoting children and families. Basic report on behalf of the MBFSFJ. Munich: DJI 2005. -> Elementary education -> Day care centers as places for children and families (Here you can find a good current overview!). ("Kind & Ko" project in Paderborn and Chemnitz). (Blue Elephants of the Child Protection Association in Essen). (projects, award winners and specialist articles). ("MoKi Monheim" project).


Ulrich Braun is the deputy head of day care facilities for children in the child, youth and family department at the city of Recklinghausen, responsible for quality and personnel management. Expert activities in the field of early childhood education, currently on the advisory board of the Bertelsmann Foundation's "Promoting Children Earlier" project (

Email: [email protected]