What are the hidden costs for day care centers

A place in the kindergarten in Munich should effectively cost nothing from September. Hidden fees such as material and play money are also to be abolished. And it should be easier to apply for discounts for siblings, for example. If the city council approves what is being discussed in the education committee this Tuesday, parents in Munich can look forward to a whole range of reliefs; They can thank the Free State, which has recently subsidized every kindergarten child with 100 euros a month, and the city, which will in future accept lower income and additional expenses totaling 43.8 million euros a year - voluntarily. But the city council has not yet made its decision, as providers of private day-care centers have already announced lawsuits.

The city's voluntary grants are actually welcomed, says the board of directors of the umbrella association of Bavarian organizations for day-care centers for children (DBTK): Munich is expensive, it is right to help parents. But one shouldn't subsidize some and not others. Several members of the association would therefore take the plans to court, explains a representative of the board. A corresponding decision will be made at the general assembly in June.

In fact, not all parents would be relieved with the plans that are now being discussed in the city council. In the submission, the education department calculates that the reform would benefit parents of 61,537 children "in a total of 1,110 out of around 1,400 day-care centers in Munich". More than half of these children, namely 33 453 kindergarten children, would in fact be completely free of charge in the future. There are currently considerably more kindergarten places in the city, namely almost 45,000. And the total number of childcare places is more than 85,000. About a quarter of the parents are left out, criticizes the DBTK. Especially those whose children attend a private day-care center that has not joined the Munich funding formula, a special grant system with which the city wants to ensure more fairness in education.

The DBTK itself represents more than 40 providers of day-care centers; According to the association, around 10,000 children are cared for in the facilities of its members, the vast majority of them in Munich. Some of these institutions have joined the funding formula, but most of them have not. Because of the city's plans, he has commissioned a legal opinion, explains the board of directors. Accordingly, the city's actions violate several principles, above all the equality of all before the law guaranteed by the Basic Law. The diversity of institutions protected by social law is also hindered, as is the right of parents to choose between them. And the city distorts competition. The existence of a number of carriers is threatened; because carriers also come from abroad, European law is also affected. Another legal opinion is being worked on. But one is still open to discussions.

The fact that the city does not include private daycare centers at a flat rate is primarily due to their fees: The city does not want to subsidize excessively expensive daycare centers. Rather, it is based on the fact that the grants induce private providers to join the funding formula - this stipulates, among other things, that parental fees must be socially graded and capped. The DBTK, on ​​the other hand, holds that with such a demand the city intervenes in the independence of free youth welfare. And for the higher remuneration, the daycare centers would also offer better services, such as longer opening times. This cannot be done with the remuneration limits of the funding formula.

The administration now wants to accommodate parent-child initiatives

The city has only faced a very similar conflict in the past few months: When it first announced in 2018 that it would massively reduce the parental contributions in city day care centers and in those who had joined the funding formula, parent-child initiatives complained that they would were left out. They couldn't keep up with the cheaper fees; if they were not included, they would have to close. Here, too, the city initially promoted joining the funding formula. But this would have meant considerably more effort for the parents' initiatives, which are often run by volunteers, with less planning security. After fierce protests, the city made improvements.

The result will also be discussed this Tuesday. For parents' initiatives there should therefore be an additional funding model called "EKI Plus". The day-care centers have to cap the parents' contributions, the city helps with the administration, and the parents are relieved just as much as in the funding formula. She is grateful to the city for this, says Beate Frank from the Munich day care center association KKT, which advises parenting initiatives. The initiatives are showing great interest in the new model. However, the time pressure is also great if the model is to be established in September. "You have to keep in mind that there are volunteers who do it on the side," says Frank. One will now observe how the parenting initiatives are doing.