The field of child day care has undergone massive changes for several decades. The introduction of the legal entitlement to have a place in a child day care centre - initially in 1996 for children between the ages of 3 and school entry and since August 2013 for children from the age of one - resulted in a massive expansion of child day care offers. This expansion was dynamized by families requesting and using these offers more and more frequently especially for young children under the age of 3 which means that the group of children in day care centres is becoming more and more heterogeneous.
This not only requires additional staff to create the places that are still missing, but also qualified specialists who are confronted with ever increasing demands on their pedagogical work. In addition, child day care is no longer considered just a care offer for children of working parents, but more than ever it embodies the first place of institutional education in a child's life. Both factors - the relief for families by having ensured care for their child and the importance of child day care with a view to early education processes that are provided there - showed their high social relevance during the corona pandemic in particular.
The high demand for education, which has emerged in recent years, is also associated with increasing needs in the entire child day care system, but above all with new skills and knowledge required from the pedagogical staff. This became evident in all German federal states at the latest with the introduction of the educational plans at the beginning of the 2000s, in which subject areas and pedagogical objectives were described that are to be implemented in child day care.
These central changes and a large number of associated developments have led to the fact that the field of child day care is in a sustainable process of change that will continue in the near future. Especially in view of the demographic change and the already increasing need for skilled workers, there are many reasons to break new ground in the training of childcare staff.
A look at the figures in Germany shows the need for action:
- From 2007 to 2020 the number of children in day care for increased from 3,015,492 to 3,888,732 children.
- In the case of children under the age of three, the number rose from 320,000 to 829,000 children in day care in the same period.
- While in 2007 35% of the parents of children under the age of three wanted childcare, the number increased to 49% in 2019.
- The proportion of children with full-time places (eight hours a day) rose from 47% to 54%.
- The proportion of children who are non-German native speakers with a migration background in child day care rose from 51% to 61%.
This was associated with an enormous increase in staff. Some figures express this development:
- From 2007 to 2020, childcare staff increased from 459,000 to over 830,000 employees.
- The number of day care workers, ie people who offer care for children under the age of three outside of kindergartens, rose from 33,000 to 45,000 employees.
- Among the day care workers, the proportion of employees with relevant professional training fell from 34% to 31%.
- At the same time, however, the proportion of employees with a specialist pedagogical qualification or at least one qualification course of minimum 160 hours increased from 43% to 89%.
The UIA project focuses precisely on child day care and its related staff because the need for personnel in this sector is expected to increase significantly in the future. Reasons for this are:
- The higher average age of the staff and the associated increased number of people who went into retirement. In 2020, almost 18% of the educational staff in kindergartens were at least 55 years old, while in 2007 it was just under 8%.
- In addition, the gap between actual offers and demands from parents, especially for under-threes in West Germany, shows that a large number of places will still have to be created in the future.