Studentenwerk Leipzig has to close two small childcare facilities

A big green garden with a villa.

As there is significantly less demand for the Studentenwerk’s childcare places from students with children and there is currently an oversupply of childcare places in the city of Leipzig, the Studentenwerk has decided to close two small, highly subsidized childcare facilities. The Studentenwerk feels compelled to do so due to its budgetary obligation to use funds economically and its responsibility towards the 40,000 students who pay semester fees.

Sharp drop in demand for childcare places

In recent years, the demand for support services for students with children and for the childcare services offered by Studentenwerk Leipzig has decreased significantly. In the area of social counseling, for example, the number of participants in information events for expectant parents has fallen from 14 per month in 2019 to a maximum of two per month in 2023. The proportion of BAföG recipients with a childcare allowance also fell by 35% in 2023 compared to 2019. A similar trend is evident in childcare. While until a few years ago there were extremely long waiting lists for childcare places at the four childcare facilities offered by the Studentenwerk with a total of 286 places, there is currently a significantly reduced demand for all facilities. In particular, the small facilities operated by the Studentenwerk itself, the Day-care center Villa Unifratz with 30 places in Dölitz-Dösen and the Kinderladen on the Augustusplatz campus with 8 parallel short-term childcare places, are underutilized.

Oversupply of municipal daycare places

At the same time, there is an oversupply of childcare places in the city of Leipzig, both now and in the coming years. According to the city of Leipzig’s current childcare needs planning, there are around 4,000 places too many. The city cites the drastic decline in the birth rate and the increased migration of families with children to the surrounding areas of Leipzig as the reasons for this. According to current forecasts, demand is expected to remain at a low level over the next ten years.

Studentenwerk decides to close

In view of these conditions, Studentenwerk Leipzig decided on June 11, 2024 to adapt the childcare services for students with children to the sharp decline in demand and to close the Day-care center Villa Unifratz with 30 childcare places and the Kinderladen with up to 8 short-term childcare places with effect from the end of March 2025. The high proportion of funding from semester fees and state subsidies for these two small childcare facilities can no longer be justified in view of the declining demand and the oversupply of childcare places in Leipzig, so that the Studentenwerk has no other choice due to its budgetary obligation to use funds economically and its responsibility towards the 40,000 students who pay semester fees. Despite the closure of these two small facilities, which are in great need of additional funding, there are still sufficient childcare places for students with children, namely 248 in the two larger childcare facilities operated in cooperation with Fröbel gGmbH: 113 places in the Integrated Kindergarten “EinSteinchen” in Brüderstraße and 135 places in the Kindergarten “Am Gutenbergplatz”.

Dr. Andrea Diekhof, Managing Director of Studentenwerk Leipzig:

“This decision has been incredibly difficult for us and we are aware that this is a drastic step for everyone involved. We know how much passion and commitment our employees put into both childcare facilities in order to create a family environment for the children and their parents. And we also know what challenges the families are now facing. We are now doing everything we can to support the affected employees and families as best we can during this difficult time.”

Individual advice for those involved

The Studentenwerk now offers individual counseling sessions to the employees of the two childcare facilities and the affected student parents. The personal situation and the respective options for action will be discussed. There is also an offer to transfer all children from the KiTa Villa Unifratz to a nearby KiTa, if this is desired by the parents. Studentenwerk Leipzig wants to do everything in its power to make the effects of the closure decision as bearable as possible for all those affected.