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Creches remain open: Bonn kindergarten director fears increasing pressure on parents

Creches remain open : Bonn kindergarten director fears increasing pressure on parents

The state appeals to parents not to bring children to kindergarten. The suspended compulsory attendance at school also poses challenges for parents and employers. A picture of the mood in the day-care centres in Bonn.

While there was a great deal of uncertainty among kindergarten staff and parents in Bonn following the Corona decisions in Berlin on Wednesday, Family Minister Joachim Stamp provided clarity later at noon, at least on the question of opening: the NRW Family Ministry's previous appeal to all parents to care for their children at home, if possible, remains unchanged. "We don't want a situation like in the spring, where we issue bans on entry and only children of people with system-relevant professions are allowed to be looked after," Stamp explained. This, he said, is to prevent resentment among parents from arising again, as it once did.

Kirsten Kokkelink can breathe a sigh of relief again: "This has also worked very well for us so far. Our parents are very responsible with this offer," the director of the Joki family house on Bahnhofstraße in Duisdorf has found. Colleagues at other facilities have also told her similar things. This week, between 30 and 50 per cent of the children were brought to her two-group day-care centre for care. In spring, on the other hand, it was a "terrible task" to have to check as a day-care centre director whether the parents were in system-relevant professions or not.

"We felt like watchdogs," the director recalls. She relayed the same as a participant in an internal discussion with Stamp two days ago. "I think it's good that the minister himself is asking at the grassroots level to find out the moods in the Kitas and to tap into the strain," Kokkelink praises Stamp, who lives with his family in Bonn and was a member of the Bonn city council for many years. Kokkelink expressly welcomes the fact that particularly children with developmental delays and from difficult family backgrounds can continue to be well cared for and supported in this way.

Elke Kirschner, director of the Protestant family centre on Brahmsstraße in Endenich, is also pleased that there will be no ban on entering the day-care centres as there was in the spring. After all, many parents are caught in the dilemma of having to work and look after children. "Parents don't bring their children to us out of boredom," emphasises the experienced educator. Regarding the reduction of childcare contracts by ten hours each, mentioned by Stamp within the so-called pandemic childcare concept, Kirschner says: "What is the point? As in the spring, we will again implement the guidelines in such a way that our working parents can cope with it.“

Günther Nagel, on the other hand, is critical of the fact that it should still be up to the parents whether they bring their children to the facility or not. The head of the municipal day-care centre Siemensstraße with 74 children would have preferred a clearer solution with a limited offer of emergency care as in the spring. "I can well imagine that some employers are now taking advantage of the situation and putting pressure on parents to continue to come to work locally, because the day-care centres basically remain open to everyone." In his institution, many children from socially disadvantaged families or parents with a migration background are cared for. Many of these fathers and mothers work in precarious conditions or have mini-jobs and worry about losing this job as well. "That is why we have always looked for and found individual solutions for our families," says the educator.

The city did not want to comment on the latest development at the day-care centres in the pandemic on Wednesday. "We first have to evaluate the state government's decision," said city spokeswoman Monika Hörig. A press conference with the Corona crisis team on further details is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

As the state government further announced, there will be no face-to-face teaching in the schools until 31 January. Emergency care will be provided by "other school personnel" (quote from School Minister Yvonne Gebauer), she said, in emergency cases there will be care in the facilities, but no on-site schooling.

Thomas Radermacher, a master carpenter in Meckenheim and board member of the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg district craftsmen's association, says that especially trades such as the bakery and butcher trades or cleaning companies would suffer from restrictions in care. "These are trades that have a high proportion of women among their employees, who often work part-time or as marginally employed mini-jobbers. If there is a lack of childcare here, it can have dramatic effects." On the other hand, construction companies, where traditionally many men work, are less directly affected. However, according to Radermacher, it is not uncommon in these cases for the care to be "left to the women".

Dirk Müller, who runs the building cleaning company of the same name, faces an organisational challenge at the very least in extending the shutdown daycare and school operations. "We are busy asking customers for possible cleaning times and at the same time accommodating the wishes of our employees." But, he says, they have been able to build up routines after last year's experience. Since Müller's company looks after many municipalities that still have to clean their properties, he says he is lucky that these orders continue and often result in a basic cleaning.

In view of the government's announcements, the large logistics company Deutsche Post DHL and the communications group Telekom, both with administrative headquarters in Bonn, speak of "routines" that have been established since the first lockdown in spring 2020. Many employees have made use of the offer to administrative staff to work from their home offices. The companies do not collect figures, also with a view to data protection. "As communicated by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the childcare guarantee also applies during the lockdown, and this also applies to the company-supported childcare facilities in Bonn," explains DHL spokesperson Christina Neuffer. Her company is also endeavouring to make care at home possible with flexible working time models.

According to Telekom spokesperson Husam Azrak, the company kindergartens are still open for employees such as field technicians. It remains to be seen who will have to finance the continued payment of wages, and to what extent, if parents take advantage of the announced increase in sick days. Parents can apply for, it not only when their children are sick, but also when they have no assured care.