The Bundestag(German Federal Parliament) approved a new national Child Protection Act on 27 October 2011.The act, which was submitted by Germany's Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Kristina Schröder, was approved with a large majority. It is expected to fundamentally change Germany's approach to child protection. It aims to improve the protection of children and youth in all walks of life and to strengthen the hand of those who are committed to children's welfare.
The act focuses on improved collaboration and cooperation among the relevant actors. It takes into account all the services available to families, parents and children and supports all stakeholders to protect children. Pediatricians, family midwives, and counselling centres will also be involved and will cooperate more closely.
"The broad approval for my law in the German Parliament shows that we are finally on the right path in terms of protecting children," said Ms Schröder. "With the child protection law we are now creating the conditions so that all the stakeholders work closely together to protect children from neglect and abuse. We are therefore preventing a child from having to suffer in the future because crucial information was not passed on."
As part of the law, paediatricians, youth officials and helplines should also work closer together, thereby avoiding situations in which people working in individual child-related areas do not communicate with each other as much as they need to. The law creates the legal basis to make it easier for families to access comprehensive and high level help before and after a birth and in the first years of a child. All the important players involved in child protection, such as youth officials, schools, health officials, hospitals, doctors, pregnancy advice offices and the police will be brought together into a cooperation network.
People with a criminal record will be excluded from childcare or youth care activities. All full-time workers in youth welfare must produce an extended police clearance certificate. Often the signs that a child is in danger are first recognised by doctors. In this respect, the law includes a provision that protects the relationship of trust between doctor and patient but also makes it possible to pass on important information to a youth welfare office.
Standards in all areas of youth and child welfare will be developed, used and checked to ensure that children's rights in institutions are upheld and that they are protected from violence.