A German family ministry spokesman said that the German government is thinking of extending childcare leave to grandparents who are looking after their teenage ward's children.
"This will allow grandparents to interrupt their professional activities to enable them to take care of their grandchildren if the parents are minors themselves," Hanno Schaefer told AFP.
AdvertisementFamily Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and a mother of seven, has proposed that the grandparents be allowed to take unpaid leave for up to three years.
Schaefer said the Social Democrats, partners in Merkel's ruling coalition, have indicated that they will support such a move.
Merkel's government is seeking to improve child care support in a bid to raise Germany's birthrate and defuse the potential social welfare crisis posed by the country's ageing population.
The birth rate has long been among the lowest in Europe, with between 1.3 and 1.4 children per woman, and experts have blamed the baby shortage on the difficulties parents faced in combining work and a family.
The introduction in January 2007 of new benefits for stay-at-home parents seems to have had a positive effect, as the birth rate rose slightly last year for the first time in a decade.
The measures allow parents to take up to a year of leave from work after the birth of a child and receive up to 1,800 euros (2,640 dollars) per month.
Von der Leyen has also initiated a programme to triple the number of places at day care centres by 2013, drawing protest from ultra-conservatives.
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