Parents can't be denied Kita spot due to low staff, German court rules

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 7 Dec, 2022 Updated Wed 7 Dec 2022 15:09 CEST
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Children work on a drawing together in a Kita. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher | Christoph Wehrer

As nurseries around Germany struggle to find enough workers to cater to demand, a court has ruled that parents shouldn't be turned away simply on the basis of low staff.

Reduced Kita (daycare) capacity due to a shortage of staff is not a valid reason to deny parents a spot there, the Administrative Court (VGH) of Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim declared.

They said that municipalities should be able to grant a temporary exception when a Kita is overcrowded in order to fulfil the “legal right to a spot.”

Since 2013, all children in Germany have been entitled to a daycare place from the age of one. However, the country faces a growing shortage of spots, especially in western Germany.

READ ALSO: Germany to be short of 384,000 Kita places by 2023

The complainants, whose child turned four in December, had applied through the district of Böblingen to find their four-year-old daughter a part-time spot in the Kita for five hours a day. The Kita had to be accessible within 30 minutes by public transport.

Yet the district refused, citing "full capacity" at all of the local Kitas. It could not fulfill the parents’ wishes due to a shortage of skilled workers to tend to their children.

However, after the parents sought legal help, VGH ruled that the entitlement to a Kita place had to be fulfilled "by means of a temporary exceptional approval for overcrowding in individual cases".

The Mannheim judges acknowledged the difficulties in providing daycare places. But even in the case of a shortage of skilled workers or other difficulties, there is a legal entitlement and the district needed to make an offer to the parents

Despite staff shortages, Germany has pushed to improve the carer: child ratio through its ‘Good Kita Law’. The current countrywide average for children aged 0-3 is 3.8 per carer and 8.1 for ages 3-6, but the numbers vary widely state to state.

In 2020, there were 3.6 children per carer in western Germany, and 5.7 in eastern Germany for the age group between 0 and 3 years old. 

READ ALSO: It’s not impossible: How I found a good Kitaplatz in Germany

Vocabulary

Legal right - (der) Rechtsanspruch

Shortage of skilled workers - Fachkräftemangel 

Overcrowding: (die) Überbelegung

Child:carer ratio: (der) Betreuungsschlüssel 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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