The Global Post reported recently that Germany may pass legislation to pay families who don’t opt to put their children in government-funded daycare. My knee-jerk reaction was, “That’s so great! Not only does the government provide free childcare, they actually reimburse families who can spend time with their kids at home! The Germans get everything good– fancy chocolate, fantastic TV programming, twee little snow-covered houses!” However, there are arguments against such legislation, and they’re pretty intriguing.
Receiving this money could have the unintended effect of keeping mothers out of the work force for longer, which may result in lower long-term wages, higher risk of unemployment, and reduced pensions. Germany already has the biggest gender pay gap in Europe. Also, an early educational setting prepares kids for school and socialization, which can be vital in their development. How will they learn which paste is delicious, if they don’t get the experience of tasting it in daycare at a young age?
There’s obviously benefits to parents returning to work and children entering a school setting early, but lots of families are still probably rooting for this legislation to get passed. Here in the U.S., we have lots of great programs (such as Even Start and Head Start) that prepare kids for school. (I’ve seen firsthand how effective they are, ’cause I used to work for one.) Did you go to daycare? Are your kids in daycare? For our lady friends in Germany: are you for or against this legislation?