Parents in Germany 'facing burnout' due to limited childcare options

The Local Germany
The Local Germany - [email protected]
Parents in Germany 'facing burnout' due to limited childcare options

The staff shortages and restricted opening hours in nursery schools around Germany could lead to chronic fatigue among parents, experts have warned.


With German Kitas unable to find the staff they need, many are closing their doors at short-notice, leaving parents scrambling to find other last-minute options.

With the situation worsening, Germany's Federal Parents' Council - who advocate on behalf of parents - have warned that those with young children are feeling stressed and overworked.

"Nationwide, parents have hardly any recovery time since the Covid pandemic," Federal Parents' Council chairperson Christiane Gotte told RND. "They are just catching up. I firmly expect a wave of burn-out." 

READ ALSO: More money and less bureaucracy: How Germany wants to change its child benefits system

According to a survey published on Friday by the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation, almost six out of ten working parents were confronted with day-care centre closures or shorter operating hours due to staff shortages this spring.

Around two-thirds of the parents surveyed said they found the situation stressful, while just under a third (30 percent) rated the situation as "very stressful".

"I can confirm the reports about the shortening of opening hours, the cancellation of care or the temporary closure of day-care centres," Grotte said. "These are also reported to us."


Restricted offer

A study published last year predicted that the country would be 384,000 Kita places short of what it needs in 2023 - largely due to personnel shortages.

The shortfall is most prominent in western Germany, where 362,400 additional childcare places are required to bridge the gap. In eastern Germany, in contrast, just 21,200 extra places are needed.


According to Grotte, the eastern states still have a structural advantage because of how work and care was organised in the GDR. In the western states, however, childcare is at breaking point.

"It is imperative that we push ahead with the recruitment of specialists, qualify suitable lay teachers and provide ongoing training for existing staff," said Gotte. "The federal states that recruited and qualified lay teachers years ago are now in a better position. They have been able to absorb the staff shortage the best."


While the issues facing Germany's Kitas have been recognised for a while, the scale of the problem was revealed in a survey of 5,000 kindergarten directors commissioned by the Association of Education and Science (VBE) and published in March this year.

According to the survey, 64 percent of the respondents said they had worked with fewer staff than legally required more than 20 percent of the time over the past year. 

Expanded out across Germany, this would mean that two in every three Kitas could not guarantee childcare for at least one day of the work, placing the burden on parents to stay home or find other last-minute care options. 

The government has recently announced that it will pour €4 billion into improving Kita services around the country, of which around half will be spent on the recruitment of specialists and in improving the ratio of children to staff in nursery schools. 


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also