NaDiRa short study: Racism in child care

Institutional racism in daycare centres

National Monitoring of Discrimination and Racism (NaDiRa)

Project head: Dr. Seyran Bostancı

Running time October 2020 until December 2020
Status Completed project

Project team:

  • Seyran Bostanci
  • Elizabeth Berman
  • Bastian Neuhauser
  • Christina Biel

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Project description:

Daycare centres are supposed to promote educational equity - that is the idealistic expectation of early childhood education. But does this promise apply to everyone? The research project investigates how institutional racism is created and negotiated in daycare centres. In doing so, it focuses on the experiences of parents as well as on the strategies with which they and also the daycare centres themselves deal with experiences of racism.


Our interviews with affected parents and experts in Berlin show: Young people already experience racism in daycare centres. Families report that books and other (play) materials do not reflect the plurality of society. As a result, children do not learn about the actual diversity of possible identities and ways of life and they lack identification figures.

On the other hand, institutional racism manifests itself in the form of knowledge.

Furthermore, it is evident that daycare centres sometimes actively prevent parents from engaging in anti-discriminatory activities and play down racist incidents. In some cases, daycare centres had terminated the childcare relationship in response to a complaint.

Surprising insights:

The lack of daycare places also plays a role in discrimination in early childhood education. This intensifies dependencies that make it difficult for parents to take action against racism. They weigh up when it is worthwhile to fight out conflicts. Parental strategies can also be to play down incidents or to change the day care centre.

What surprised us most was that day-care centres have the right to terminate the contract with a family if parents complain about racist experiences - because day-care centres can invoke the reason that the relationship of trust has been damaged by the complaint. Instead of dismantling discriminatory pratices, families are actively excluded.

Significance for practice:

Our findings provide a basis for developing training modules for educators and day care centre managers, especially for working with families in day care centres. In addition, educational organisations and other actors can use our findings to formulate demands to policy makers, for example for effective complaint management in early childhood education.

Publications & Presentations:

Media reports:

Short studies in preparation of the Racism Monitor:

In order to prepare a comprehensive Racism Monitor, DeZIM called on academics* from the DeZIM research community in 2020 to develop innovative study ideas. These should extend existing research projects, pursue new and innovative approaches or build an infrastructure to research racism. By 2021, more than 120 researchers at the six locations of the DeZIM research community had conducted a total of 34 short studies. These are divided into six thematic priorities: (1) Health system, (2) Education system and labour market, (3) Institutional racism, (4) Dealing with experiences of racism, (5) Participation and media, and (6) Racist ideologies and attitudes.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Third-party funding)

Cooperation partner:

Berlin Institute for Empirical Integration and Migration Research (BIM);

Institute for Social Sciences, Humboldt University Berlin