Berlin (dpa) – The Bundestag votes today on the outcome of the mediation on the legal right to an all day day care center in primary school. On Monday evening, after a long dispute over the funding of the project within the Bundestag and Bundesrat mediation committee, the federal and state governments reached an agreement literally at the last minute.
The two houses must now give their formal agreement. This should happen this Tuesday during the last Bundestag session scheduled for this legislature without further discussion. The Federal Council is expected on Friday. After its signature by the Federal President, the “All-Day Funding Act” can finally come into force.
Last big Groko project
The legal demand is a last major project of the coalition agreement between the Union and the SPD, which the outgoing grand coalition is still in the process of implementing. It is expected that every child who enters school during the 2026/2027 school year will be entitled to a full-time place in the first four school years. In some Länder – especially in the east, Hamburg and Berlin – there is already a lot of all-day care. In other countries, such as Baden-Württemberg, there are still many new places to be created. It is estimated that there is a total need of 600,000 to 800,000 places.
Long cost argument
The federal government and the Länder had been arguing over the funding of the project for a long time. The Länder had asked the federal government to make a significant contribution to the subsequent investment and operating costs, had stopped the project in the Bundesrat before the summer and referred it to the Bundestag and Bundesrat mediation committee. It then seemed unclear whether it would be implemented at all.
More recently, Baden-Württemberg in particular, under the leadership of Green Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann, had once again lobbied and demanded more money from the federal government. The Greens’ first parliamentary director general in the Bundestag, Britta Haßelmann, said: “It was important for us Greens that the central topic of education and all-day care offers did not fall under the table in the last few meters. “
Last minute deal
Without an agreement within the mediation committee, the law could probably not have been voted on before the federal elections and would have expired: laws that are not definitively dealt with in the legislature are subject to what is called discontinuity. They must be presented and re-negotiated from scratch in a newly elected Bundestag. The mediation committee was under additional pressure on Monday evening: according to the negotiators, an agreement before midnight was necessary in order to meet the formal deadlines for referral to the Bundestag the next day.
Bunde puts “the shovel on it”
As previously promised, the federal government will now contribute up to 3.5 billion euros towards the investment costs for day places: this may be money for the construction of new premises in primary schools, but also for repair and renovation work, for example in countries which already have a lot of full-time places. “A shovel on top”, as they called it, was mainly due to the running costs for the daytime running of the places. Here, Berlin wants to support the Länder in the long term with 1.3 billion euros per year. That’s 300 million more per year than what was promised the last time.
All happy sides
Representatives of federal and state politics were relieved after the three-hour negotiations and spoke of a good day for children and families. Union chancellor candidate Armin Laschet (CDU) told the German news agency that the legal right to all-day places in elementary schools is an important step for family-work compatibility . The vice-president of the parliamentary group of the Union, Nadine Schön (CDU), declared: “After the introduction of the legal right to a place of care for children in daycare, we are finally filling the ‘care gap’ that many women in the West German Länder especially when their children are enlisted in the part-time labor force. “
On the SPD side, Federal Family Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) stressed that the law guarantees that “all children have good opportunities, regardless of their origin and their parents’ wallet”. In addition to better compatibility between family and work and the provision of skilled workers for businesses, the coalition had also promoted all-day expansion with the argument of greater equality of opportunity. Former Family Minister Franziska Giffey (SPD) had said children who sat unattended in front of the TV or played on their cellphones after school were betraying their potential.