Quality of the daycare centers: There is a shortage of places in the west, staff in the east

Quality of the daycare centers
There is a shortage of places in the west and staff in the east

Achieving child-friendly care in German daycare centers by 2030 is hardly possible anymore. The situation can be improved, however, says the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Too few places in the west, too few educators in the east: Germany is still far from ideal childcare despite the massive expansion of daycare centers. That is one of the results of the new country monitoring “Early Childhood Education Systems” by the Bertelsmann Foundation.

In the child daycare situation, there is a double east-west divide. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation, 53 percent of children under the age of three in East Germany attend a day care center or day care center. In the west, this proportion is only 31 percent.

Measured against the personnel key, the West German daycare centers offer a higher quality: mathematically, a specialist looks after three and a half daycare children there. Statistically speaking, there are five and a half children for one educator in the eastern German federal states. A personnel key of one to three is child-friendly.

The situation will worsen in 2026

According to the first so-called specialist radar for daycare and elementary school, which will also be presented this Tuesday, it will no longer be possible in this decade to create child-friendly care and sufficient daycare places at the same time. According to this, there will still be a gap of more than 230,000 educators in 2030 between the forecast demand and the expected supply of skilled workers.

This gap cannot be closed by increasing training capacities because there is a lack of vocational school teachers. The foundation predicts that enough lateral entrants could no longer be won by 2030. In addition, the personnel situation will worsen with the legal right to all-day care for primary school children from 2026.

Nevertheless, there is a realistic chance of improving the childcare situation by 2030 if the federal and state governments coordinate better, explained the foundation chairman Jörg Dräger. “Closing the gap between East and West in terms of participation and quality would be a real breakthrough in early childhood education,” he emphasized. The shortage of skilled workers can be overcome if all political efforts are focused on it from now on.

The basis of the annually updated country monitoring are evaluations of data from the statistical offices of the federal government and the federal states. The Bertelsmann Foundation plans to publish a follow-up study at the end of the year for a more precise estimate of the skilled workers required in all-day care for elementary school children.