In November 2012 German politicians voted in a new childcare/ECE benefit programme that will financially help parents who stay at home to be their child's carer/educator instead of using government subsidised childcare.
This has happened at a time when the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government has been urging other European nations to rein in spending and cut back public debt. It demonstrates support for parents to have a real choice as to whether to have a paid job and put their child into childcare/ECE or be their child's full-time carer and educator.
Families where one parent stays at home will receive €100 a month under the programme, increasing to €150 a month from 2014 onward.
The proposal was met with harsh criticism by the opposition and business leaders but the law passed with a vote of 310 to 282, with two abstentions.
It has been reported in the media that the centre-left opposition is critical because they say the money should be used to create more early childhood centres and increase children's participation in early childhood education. They say parents should not be paid not to use state funded early childhood programmes. German business leaders argue it could delay parents' entry into the workforce for longer and deprive the German economy of valuable workforce.
From a purely economic viewpoint the subsidy does not make sense. But from an ethical, educational and social development perspective it does make sense. It is argued by supporters of the policy that it is not a question of giving parents money not to use childcare/ECE, but one of fairness and free choice in terms of care.
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