In recent years, Germany has been welcoming a growing number of children into the world. The birth rate has risen to an average of 1.5 births per woman. At the same time, more mothers with small children have been going to work. These successes would scarcely have been possible without a redirection of family policy.
2007 proved to be a turning point in Germany’s family policy. That year saw not only the introduction of a parental benefit, which improved families’ finances and encouraged mothers to resume their careers early, but also the decision to expand childcare for up-to-three-year-olds, without which it is often impossible for mothers to take up gainful employment. Facilities for young families have been significantly improved in other areas, too. For example, many kindergartens and primary schools are now open all day.
In many areas, however, childcare facilities remain inadequate despite the introduction of new services. Thus, despite the legal right to childcare, there is still a considerable shortage of day-care centre places for under-three-year-olds. At the same time, quality assurance needs to be improved. Particularly in view of the large number of refugee families, there is a need to ensure that all children learn German well enough in kindergarten to be able to follow lessons without difficulty when they reach school. In addition to good child care, families also need financial support. At least in this field, with its child benefit and non-contributory health insurance for children, Germany already compares well with other countries.