Besuch in einer WillkommensKITA
Almost a quarter of children at the AWO »Buratino« day-care centre in Gröditz are refugees. One year after introducing the WillkommensKITA integration project, the day-care centre manager reports on the progress and challenges in everyday dealings with the refugee children and their families.
Even small things can take time
»It all started in 2013« recounts day-care centre manager Heike Seifert. It was then that the first children from the nearby asylum seeker home came to the »Buratino« AWO Integrative Day-Care Facility. Due to their lacking language skills, the new arrivals were a huge challenge for the centre in this small, northern Saxon town. Teachers and parents initially communicated non-verbally. Everyday things like orientation or clarifying which things the children needed at the centre were very difficult to convey. It was also unclear what past experiences the children were bringing with them to the centre.
Just under a year later, the German Child and Youth Foundation of Saxony (DKJS) advertised the WillkommensKITA integration programme.
The »Buratino« day-care centre is one of ten WillkommensKITAs in Saxony. The integration project started at the Gröditz-based facility in November 2014.
68 children from a total of six different nations attend the facility in the north-Saxon town.
The WillkommensKITA integration project was established by the German Child and Youth Foundation in 2014.
The aim of the programme is to create a place for refugee children and their families to feel welcome and at home.
The project also helps the facility staff accept and integrate refugee families.
How do we handle traumatised children? How do we overcome language and cultural barriers? And what is the right of asylum all about? The project helps the teachers working at the day-care centres answer these and similar questions.
A quarter of the children at the »Buratino« day-care centre currently come from refugee families.
The new arrivals often initially act more as observers.
The children generally adapt very quickly to the daily routine at the facility, says centre manager Heike Seifert.
There are no special language classes for the little ones.
Opportunities for speaking are regularly created so as to overcome language barriers as quickly as possible.
Children solve initial language problems in their own way, communicating non-verbally if necessary.
Friendships are rapidly forged between the children.
Without volunteers, the integration work at the »Buratino« facility wouldn't be possible.
Apart from looking after refugee children, communicating with their parents often also takes a lot of time.
Language barriers and cultural differences necessitate great sensitivity and patience when explaining everyday things.
The refugee families are very pleased their children are allowed to attend a day-care facility and become familiar with German life.
One of the focus areas of the programme is for a specially trained coach to support the facility.
Other focuses include continued education and the establishment of a local support network in the centre's surrounding area.
And although there's still a lot of work left to do, the manager of the "Buratino" facility is very happy with the integration project. The »Buratino« day-care facility is one of ten WillkommensKitas in Saxony. The integration project began at the Gröditz-based facility in November 2014.
The WillkommensKITA integration project
»We were initially looking for day-care facilities with at least one child from an asylum-seeking family in a rural area, where there are generally fewer established support services for integrating asylum seekers,« says the manager of the WillkommensKITA model programme.
The programme has clearly formulated aims. WillkommensKITAs are intercultural places where children from asylum-seeking families are welcome and can feel at home. Participating teachers build a local support network with experts to arrange the integration process on site. The programme is financed by the Saxon State Ministry for Culture and the Saxon State »Cosmopolitan Saxony for Democracy and Tolerance« programme.
The WillkommensKITA project provided a central theme for the integration work. Programme participants are able to take this one step further.Heike Seifert, Manager of the AWO "Buratino" Integrative Child Day-care Centre, Gröditz
First steps as a WillkommensKITA
The programme started at four Saxon day-care centres in November 2014. The manager of the AWO »Buratino« Integrative Child Day-care facility, Heike Seifert, explains the focuses of the programme:
Collaborating with a facility coach
Once a month, a specially trained coach participates in a meeting at the centre, where the latest everyday issues are reflected on with the teaching team. Sometimes, this may relate to an admissions interview with a Syrian family conducted as a three-way telephone conversation with an interpreter. Other times, the centre management may be seeking advice on dealing with German parents. The coach acts as moderator here, obtaining his/her own view of the facility.
Advanced training for the teaching team
A second focus area of the programme consists of advanced training and symposia on the topics of intercultural learning and language acquisition, supplemented by fundamental questions, including the right to asylum and the role of women. External speakers and experts offer help in the fields of traumatisation, multilingualism at day-care centres, and in co-operations with German and foreign parents.
Regular network meetings
Network meetings with the other WillkommensKITAs are held once a year. Apart from ice-breaking, the focus here is on discussing integration experiences and challenges.
Ten WillkommensKITAs in Saxony
Although there is still a lot of work left to do, the manager of the AWO »Buratino« day-care centre is very happy with the integration project, which has seen the introduction of a local support network in Gröditz. Today, the asylum-seeker home, the city of Gröditz and the day-care centre work very closely together, helping arrange the integration process on site.
There are now ten WillkommensKITAs in Saxony - six of which are in urban areas. According to the project manager, there are no immediate plans for any more. He believes it is more important for the current WillkommensKITAS to share their programme experiences with other day-care centres in Saxony, and act as pioneers when it comes to integration.