Strengthening Families to meet Challenges of Demographic Change

[14. 5. 2013] Due to the demography summit of the German Federal Government today, the Association of German Family Organisations published a press release. The family organisations support the strengthening of families as a crucial measure of demographic policy. However, the government seems to work rather half-heartedly on this object.

In occasion of the Federal Government’s Demografiegipfel (demography summit) today the family organizations underline that “strengthening the family as a community” needs to be the central approach to meet the challenges of the demographic change. Families provide the essential services for the aging society, from parenting to care of the elderly. The organizations regret however that in the context of the demographic strategy, much work was left uncompleted.

“Families need ample time for family life, adequate financial possibilities and good infrastructure, such as day care facilities”, said the AGF’s chairman Dr. Klaus Zeh, “but unfortunately the Federal Government very much limited the discussions to aspects of family time – even though there would have surely been many other issues to discuss as well.” In this respect the Federal Government indeed made the right decision to set up the first of nine working groups on “Strengthening the family as a community”. However, this goal was later not consistently implemented.

In order to successfully strengthen families, a change of perspective is needed. Much more than before the focus should be put on the realities of families, for instance concerning workplace arrangements or conditions in local municipalities. Effective and permanent solutions to the everyday problems of families are necessary, such as nationwide, high-quality care and assistance and a simpler changeover between full-time and part-time employment. Especially in the light of the demographic change the focus must be the needs and wishes of families and not the economy’s demands.

The press release further states, that, with an appropriate policy framework for families, there could be positive effects already in the present  and at the same time, it could encourage future parents to have the desired numbers of children.

The debates in the working groups were intense and open-minded, even when it came to controversial issues. But the tight timetable of the German Federal Government only allowed two meetings of the working groups, which made it difficult to find detailed results. Thus, the family organisations hope for an ongoing debate on the demographic strategy, no matter how elections in September will turn out. The AGF is willing to further support the debate with its knowledge and competencies.

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