All-day school for little ones

Shortly before the election, the coalition is promoting a new right to care for primary school children – at the expense of the municipalities. The project from the coalition agreement is to become a reality by means of a fast-track procedure.

Elementary school students in Brandenburg

AIn future, all primary school children should have a legal right to all-day care at school. Shortly before the end of the legislative period, the Union and the SPD decided to push through this project from their coalition agreement – but this leads to anger and conflicts with the municipalities, which have to implement the new legal claim in everyday life: Despite planned subsidies from the federal budget, they see huge Gaps in the financing concept.

“The federal government wants to cap its participation at almost one billion euros per year – and the states have so far not made any commitments,” said the chief executive of the German district assembly, Hans-Günter Henneke, of the FAZ probably around one million new all-day places – ongoing operating costs of around 4 billion euros per year will be incurred. The municipalities would be faced with correspondingly high burdens, unless the federal states step in to the breach. The district council expressed the suspicion that the urgent procedure also served to “dup” the municipalities.

A draft law of the federal government has been available since the beginning of May for this project, which is widely supported in terms of education and family policy. In order to save time and get over all the hurdles in good time before the summer break, the Bundestag is to discuss a draft law with the same content that was introduced directly by the coalition factions this Friday. That shows his current agenda. With this trick, the parliamentarians do not have to wait as usual for the Federal Council to deliver its comments on the government draft.

Entitlement from autumn 2026

Specifically, the draft provides that from autumn 2026 on, elementary school pupils will be entitled to “support in a day care facility” until the start of the fifth grade. “The entitlement is eight hours a day on working days,” it continues. A lead time is necessary because the capacities in all primary schools have to be created first. The draft states a need for 820,000 to 1.13 million additional childcare places. From this, he deduces investment costs of 4.9 to 6.7 billion euros and annual operating costs of 3.2 to 4.4 billion euros.

The municipalities have little objection to the political goal as such. “The all-day offers should be expanded as needed,” says Henneke. And the German Association of Cities even welcomed the cabinet decision from the beginning of May as “absolutely correct”. But he also warned: “The financing of this great social task must not be passed on to the municipalities.”

In addition to funding, the district council also sees constitutional problems: “The federal government already lacks the competence for such a law,” Henneke judges. In contrast to questions of social welfare, this intervenes in the school sovereignty of the federal states. That speaks all the more against an urgent procedure. Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) and Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) were responsible for drafting the federal government’s draft. On Tuesday, Giffey had advertised it on the Child and Youth Welfare Day. The fact that she has meanwhile declared her resignation should have no consequences for this project – all the more now that the coalition factions have taken it over.