[8. 9. 2011] Press release of AGF that encourages parents to use of the German educational package, even though it is far from being perfect. At the same time speedy processing of applications is required in the municipalities.
The family organisations united within the AGF, call at this, the start of the school year for the education and participation package to be taken advantage of. Indeed the package remains far removed from what must be done to help families and tackle child poverty; however, despite this, it should still be used. At the same time, municipalities are required to implement the education package, in a family orientated and non-bureaucratic manner. This is already operating rather well in some municipalities and that is what other municipalities should orientate themselves towards.
“The educational package really is not the last words of wisdom,” said the chairman of the Association of German family organizations, Bettina Müller-Sidibé, “To achieve genuine participation and educational opportunities for all children, a large number of coordinated measures which are directly addressing the root causes of poverty and social exclusion are required. We would have liked different discussions and fundamentally different results, especially given the ruling of the Constitutional Court on Hartz IV (German basic security benefits). The education package is far too bureaucratic and is by far, simply not sufficient for adequate support. Nevertheless, parents should definitely take advantage of the education package.”
According to the family organisations, the education package is unfortunately still too little known, and many local authorities seem overwhelmed to find a non-bureaucratic solution, for the purposes of the families. The municipalities are required to process claims quickly and not to use the funds allocated for the educational package for any other purpose, in order to exonerate their municipal budget. So it cannot be, for example, that employees will be removed from any meaningful task for families, in order to focus instead on ensuring the implementation of the educational package.
However, there are already some good examples that municipalities can use for reference. For example, in Flensburg informally submitted applications are being processed and the District of North Saxony additionally recognises requests from neighboring municipalities. Children from affected families in the district of North Friesland have received in advance vouchers, which unbureaucratically can be directly given to the organiser or the association. In Mülheim and Ottweiler eligible SGB II (basic security benefits for job-seekers) recipients have received an information letter enclosed with the application form. These are good examples on which other municipalities should orient themselves.
Background information on the education package:
Educational package eligible children are those, whose parents receive unemployment benefits, welfare benefits according to SGB II, income support, housing benefit or child allowance and who are not older than 25 years. The educational package benefits for activities in clubs, music lessons, etc. however, are only granted up to 18 years of age. Those responsible for benefits from the education and participation package are, according to the specific claim, the job centers, welfare offices or the Housing Benefit office. Children whose parents receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act may, in some municipalities also receive benefits for education and participation. This is currently possible in Berlin, Potsdam, Wolfsburg, Erlangen, Hamburg, Bremen and Cologne. With funding for excursions, field trips, lunch, student transportation and tuition, to name but a few, can amount to some several hundred Euros, with which these families are being supported.