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Germany – Policies for children and their families: It’s time for responsibility and fair opportunities

People are longing for stable relationships and family cohesion. By combining targeted financial benefits with a good infrastructure and time policies the Federal Government creates a favourable framework for shaping family life.

Access to appropriate resources

Promoting labour market participation of parents

The expansion of childcare and the introduction of parental allowance resulted in a significant increase of gainfully employed mothers (cf. Family Report 2012, p. 74pdf ).

With the business programme “Success Factor Family” , the associated corporate network and the “Family-conscious Working Hours ” initiative, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, together with the industry and the unions, promotes a family-friendly working environment and supports employers implementing such an environment.

The approximate 670 networks of the “Local Alliances for Families Initiativepdf“  support families and especially parents in gainful employment with specific projects when it comes to creating a work-family balance.

Guaranteeing an appropriate living standard by combining benefits

One important task of family benefits is to support parents in carrying the financial burden related to caring for children. This is what child benefit, parental allowance or extra-familial childcare as well as the additional maintenance payment for single parents or the child benefit supplement for families on a low income are there for (cf. political report on the overall evaluation of marriage and family-related benefitspdf).

Access to affordable, high quality services

Reducing childhood disparities by investing in early-years‘ education and care

Since 1 August 2013, every child between the ages of one and three has the legal right to early childhood support in a day care centre or day nursery. 

At the same time, the legal regulation for the new parental leave benefits has come into force. It’s the parental leave benefits’ aim to give young parents an extensive freedom of choice:  the new benefits are granted to parents whose child was born after 30 July 2012 and who do not make use of early childhood care in publicly provided child care facilities or day care centres. Parental leave benefits are provided following the parental allowance and are paid independently of the parental employment status and extent. Parents can receive €100 (€150 as of 1 August 2014) per child per month.

Improving the impact that education systems have on equal opportunities

Educational matters are fundamentally regulated by the respective Länder. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs on the other hand promotes the non-formal education of young people at the Federal level and also fulfils an incentive function in this field (cf. German Social Code Book VIII, section 83, §1 [§ 83 Absatz 1 Sozialgesetzbuch VIII - SGB VIII]). The infrastructure of youth education at the Federal level, as well as model projects on current requirements for action in the field of child and youth welfare are promoted.

Improving the flexibility of health systems with regards to the needs of disadvantaged children

The German health system allows for extensive services of the statutory health insurances for children and young people. Several legislative initiatives aim to further improve the framework conditions in guaranteeing medical care for children and young people (e.g. the introduction of specialist outpatient care, German Social Code Book V, section 116b [§ 116b SGB V], from which children and young people with complex conditions will benefit as well as the Law of Care Realignment (Pflege-Neuausrichtungs-Gesetz) with improvements in benefit entitlements of the nursing care insurance also for care-dependent children and young people and their relatives). The law for promoting prevention (Gesetz zur Förderung der Prävention) aims at the further development of former screening tests, among others, for children and young people into prevention-oriented health checks that are then to be expanded to children aged 6 to 10 years old.

Safe, adequate housing and a corresponding living environment for children

Approximately 12% of all households in Germany receive direct financial support for living (public spending for housing, basic security benefits and housing benefit in 2011: €17 billion).

With the so-called Social Housing Promotion the Länder promote rented housing and the creation of owner-occupied residential property, especially for the benefit of families with children, with approximately €1 billion every year. In Germany, the Federal Government will support its states with an annual €518 million by the end of 2019.

The Federal Government supports cities and communities with federal financial assistance from urban development promotion, pilot projects and action funds to better tailor their urban infrastructure to the needs of children and young people. Furthermore, approximately 220 labour market projects with “young people” as their target group, among others, are supported by the “Education, Economy, Work in the Neighbourhood” ESF Federal German Programme.

Promoting support for families and improving the quality of alternative care services

The Federal "Early Support"  initiative ("Frühe Hilfen") is an integral part of the Federal Child Protection Act that came into force on 1 January 2012. By the end of 2015, the initiative exemplarily promotes the expansion and development of multi-professional networks especially in the fields of child and youth welfare and health as well as the commitment of family midwives and comparably qualified healthcare professions – even including volunteer-driven structures.

A child’s right to participation

Promoting the participation of all children in activities in the fields of games, leisure, sports and culture

The education and participation package  enables all children to participate in society.

Creating mechanisms that promote the inclusion of children in decisions affecting their lives

The participation of children and young people is explicitly mandated by Federal law in book VIII of the German Social Code, section 8, §1 (§ 8 Abs. 1 SGB VIII). Hereafter, “children and young people are to be involved in all decisions affecting them in the area of public youth welfare, according to their level of development”.

Together with the Federal Child Protection Act, a separate subjective right to advice for children and young people in emergency and conflict situations has been introduced as of 1 January 2012 (German Social Code Book VIII, section 8, §3 [§ 8 Absatz 3 SGB VIII]). Furthermore, children and youth institutions have to provide instruments for the participation and possibilities for complaints to ensure the rights of children and young people (German Social Code Book VIII, section 45, §2 No. 3 [§ 45 Abs. 2 Nr. 3 SGB VIII]).

Outlook

With policies for children and their families it remains especially important to sustainably strengthen future prospects and confidence.

Therefore, it is necessary to improve social acceptance of family benefits, interlock the promotion, support and aid of all stakeholders and counteract educational and other disadvantages.

 

The information contained in this country profile was last updated in February 2014.

4,000 parent counsellors of the programme "Elternchance ist Kinderchance " (Parental opportunity is an opportunity for children) by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs are providing parents with guidance during the initial stages of their children’s lives and education. The parent counsellors are part of the family education programmes in Germany. They are designed to include families into the education processes of their children.

The Federal "Early Support"  initiative ("Frühe Hilfen"), an integral part of the Federal Child Protection Act (http://www.bmfsfj.de/BMFSFJ/kinder-und-jugend,did=119832.html) that came into force on 1 January 2012, is used to expand and develop multi-professional networks especially in the fields of child and youth welfare and health and to commit family midwives and comparably qualified healthcare professions – even including volunteer-driven structures.