Reconciling science and family

Helmholtz Institute Würzburg launches day care for children in cooperation with the city of Würzburg

Würzburg, 28 November 2022—Many young researchers want to start a family and return to science without a long-term interruption. This is where the Würzburg Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) comes in to support its employees wherever possible. In order to further facilitate the work-life balance, HIRI now offers qualified child day care in cooperation with the city of Würzburg.

Alice Hohn, Head of Administration at the Helmholtz Institute: "A large number of our employees come from abroad. Some bring their family, but they rarely start with us at the beginning of a kindergarten year." Also, as new Würzburg citizens they have to find a place to live first. That's why there is a need for both German- and English-language childcare close to the institute, says Hohn.

The science manager is committed to eliminating young people's worries about being left out in research by becoming parents. "I would like to thank Matthias Krebs, who through a happy coincidence had heard about our efforts. Having him as a day care provider is a perfect match of demand and supply for us," Hohn is pleased to say.

English-speaking and flexible

Krebs, who after his degree course of English and French had been a research assistant in the linguistics department at the University of Würzburg for several years, manages the day care centre "Flipsi" in the old town. The just opened facility offers care for children aged one to three.

Since 2019, Matthias Krebs has been working as a certified child day care person, and as a father of two he knows the challenges of working parents. His situation-oriented approach to socio-pedagogical practice places special emphasis on interconnected, holistic learning in everyday situations. "Children have the phenomenal ability to learn languages incidentally and in no time at all," says Krebs. He thus speaks English with the children as much as possible in order to give them an understanding of phonology as well as grammar, without creating a school-like environment.

Supported by law

Child day care is supported by law in accordance with SGB VIII and BayKiBiG and is firmly anchored in the services offered by the city of Würzburg. Like institutions such as kindergartens, it has an educational mission, but compared to them, it represents a more flexible service tailored to the needs of parents and children.

Claudia Ebert from the city's Youth and Family Department explains the approach: "The self-employed day care providers have specific training and a care permit from the city of Würzburg. In small family-like groups, they can ensure optimal support for the children and tailor the care times to the parental needs." Special requirements can often be addressed due to the individual focus of the day care providers. In the case of HIRI this is the additional English language, says Ebert.

Available as of now, day care at HIRI complements existing offerings such as flexible work and part-time models, babysitting, a parent-child room, and regular social activities.


Britta Grigull

Press contact

Dr Britta Grigull