1. Expansion of Day Care for Children as a National Responsibility
Expanding daycare in Germany is one of the biggest challenges facing society. Childcare that meets the needs of parents makes it easier to combine family and career - in many cases, it is even the basic prerequisite for mothers and fathers to be able to work at all. In this way, it makes an important contribution to equal opportunities for all children. After all, daycare lays the foundation for children's later education and careers.
The efforts of the federal and state governments to expand daycare have already had an impact: The average childcare rate in Germany has almost doubled since 2008 from 17.6 percent to 35 percent (2020). Nevertheless, the demand is much higher: more than 49 percent of parents of children under the age of three would like a daycare place for their children. Since August 1, 2013, there has been a legal entitlement to a childcare place for children from the age of one. The additional expansion of daycare centers is therefore important and necessary.
Linked to this is the task of finding sufficient numbers of well-qualified specialist staff. In addition to basic training programs, it is also necessary to provide access to careers in child daycare for lateral entrants by offering qualification opportunities.
2. Presentation of the Training Courses Offered within the Framework of the Project
Aim of the Qualifications
The Seligenthal Education Center in Landshut unites seven educational and care institutions and is part of the UIA project. From infants to young adults, the education center accompanies, supports and teaches young people, covering a wide range of general education and vocational training programs as well as in retraining. For the project, two training programs in child day care have been developed to provide single parents with opportunities to acquire qualifications. For this purpose, it is important to design a training plan adapted to the target group of single parents. In order to harmonize the needs of the target group and the required curriculum content, the needs analysis prepared by the UIA project sponsor ZAK e.V. was used on the one hand, and the possibilities available within the legal framework were comprehensively explored on the other.
Above all, the need for training that can be completed whilst working needs to be taken into account. For this reason, for example, the necessary attendance times have been significantly reduced by relying more on block teaching, supplementary Saturday teaching, blended e-learning and in-house training in the future residential buildings. Furthermore, there is the offer of learning group support by teachers who have a special coaching training qualification. All of these elements contribute to relieving the burden on single parents and enable a good combination of training, school and raising children.
Brief Presentation of the Approaches
The two developed training models "Seli-Care 1" (SC-1) and "Seli-Care 2" (SC-2) are versions of courses already offered at the Bildungszentrum Seligenthal.
SC-1 is a one-year shortened versionof the regular two-year training to become a state-approved child care worker. The shortening of the training is achieved by seeking potential project participants who meet the admission requirements to enter directly into the second year of the social pedagogical seminar. The course is integrated into the regular teaching schedule, whereby the prescribed 10.5 teaching hours per week for participants in "home and care" have been spread over 3 days. A trial year of this training model began in September 2020.
SC-2 is a variation of the so-called "Seligenthaler Model IQ" (SEMO-IQ): It is a one-year intensive training program leading to the qualification as a state-certified educator, which can be completed while working. This is followed by the so-called professional internship, in a regular and adequately paid employment relationship which ends after one year with state final examinations. With SC-2, the participants have the opportunity to complete the theoretical examination section of the educator training in only one year. SC-2 means a reduction of the regular training hours by 90%.
3. First Experiences with the Participants
In September 2020 a trial year of the training model SC-1 started with 13 participants. Of the 13 people who started, 9 are still there, which is due, among other things, to insufficient performance or an unsuitable attitude. This situation is critical in light of the fact that SC-1 can only be offered during the operational phase of the project, i.e., beginning in the fall of 2022, subject to meeting a required minimum number of participants of 16.
Since the majority of people interested in one of the training courses offered have a migration background, there is a need for financial and organizational support in the recognition of foreign school and vocational qualifications. In addition, there is a need for language support for this special group of people in the sense of a German course specifically geared to pedagogical terminology; ideally coupled with some kind of integration course / intercultural training.
In the course of the acquisition of childminders carried out by ZAK e.V. - the result of which is only of a provisional nature due to the extension of the project period - it became apparentt that many of the people who were in principle interested do not meet the legal admission requirements for participation in training due to their low level of education. Other candidates for instance, who based on their previous education, could be considered for training as educators, either shy away from the high demands or do not have the necessary willingness to perform.
The Seligenthal Education Center can provide support for those candidates who, on the basis of their previous education, could be considered for one of the two training programs, but who, due to their migration background, need help with the recognition of foreign certificates and vocational qualifications. In this context, it is also being examined to what extent an already acquired qualification in a state-recognized training occupation can be recognized as a secondary school leaving certificate. This possibility is to be used in particular with regard to the qualification as an assistant who is specialized in helping disabled persons.
4. Change in the Framework Conditions
The planned modernization of educator training in Bavaria envisages that, from the 2022/2023 school year, social pedagogical specialist academies will only be allowed to offer the so-called social pedagogical introductory year. This is intended to reduce the duration of the training from five to four years. As a result, the previous child care training based on the two-year social pedagogical seminar with a final qualification will be abolished.
Nevertheless, SC-1, which is understood as the second year of the social pedagogical seminar which started in 2021, can still be offer.
5. Own Challenges
The fact that some of the classes planned for the two training models take place in the evenings and on Saturdays requires both additional persuasion of the teachers and additional costs, which then have to be reimbursed by the city of Landshut or the project.
Although this activity was not originally planned for in the project’s application, in the context of exploring new forms of pedagogical training, the possibilities were explored of also holding a so-called external examination in child care at the social pedagogical specialist academy Seligenthal - such an examination has so far only been offered at state and state-recognized child care schools. In cooperation with ZAK e.V. and the ZAK Children's Foundation, a curriculum for a preparatory course for the external examination was to be developed and offered that is oriented toward the needs of single parents. This would have provided support to external learners for exam preparation that does not yet exist at the regular child care schools. Unfortunately, however, this proposal has (at present) been classified as legally inadmissible by the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs. Therefore, other solutions are being sought.
The certification of 'Seli-Care 1' is currently proving difficult. The main reason for this is the fact that training support for SGB II benefit recipients from the government employment agency is generally excluded or only possible under very specific, limited conditions. Only if the secondary occupation of the training is in the foreground, i.e. if a certain number of hours of weekly working time is fulfilled, does a certification and consequently also financial support of SC-1 comes into question.
Current circumstances, however, make efforts to certify SC-1 seem obsolete, so preparatory measures for certification are now focused mainly on SC-2.
6. Consequences for the Future
As mentioned above, despite the changes accompanying the reform of educator training, SC-1 including a qualification as a child care worker can continue to be offered at least until the end of the project. Nevertheless, an expansion of the training program is essential for three main reasons:
(a) Problems with the acquisition regarding the fulfillment of admission requirements for training participation;
(b) Discontinuation of the child care qualification in the course of the introduction of the SEJ;
(c) Experiences from the trial year of SC-1 show that participants drop out for various reasons, thus jeopardizing compliance with the target of 5 training participants or rather 5 people successfully completing the course with a qualification agreed with the UIA.
On the one hand, an expansion of the training program is planned in order to integrate it in the training of assistants who are specialized in helping disabled persons. It remains to be clarified to what extent such training should not only be part of the actual operational phase of the project, but can already take place in the preliminary phase with the aim of generating future participants in child care training. The basis for this consideration is the fact that a qualification for assistants who are specialized in helping disabled persons is recognized by the state and is thus considered the equivalent of the Mittlere Reife (secondary school leaving certificate). On the other hand, further training to become a supplementary pedagogical worker is also to become part of the extended training program, with which the participants do not achieve a state-recognized qualification, but nevertheless have very good career opportunities afterwards. In this context, it must also be mentioned that the city of Landshut has already indicated that for the students who have successfully completed the SEJ, whose chances of gaining a foothold in the job market will worsen with the discontinuation of the official childcare qualification, can be compensated by means of recognition as a supplementary pedagogical assistant.
Finally, it has to be noted that the scope of the necessary expansion of the training concept is difficult to assess with regard to the future viability/reproducibility of the project. In particular, the fact that there will no longer be any possibility to continue offering SC-1 from September 2024 at the latest already speaks against the possibility of direct transferability by other cities and municipalities.