Located at the crossroads of integration and early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies, this article draws on empirical research conducted from the perspective of ECEC centres to provide insights into the local reception of refugee children in Germany. In recent years, the ECEC sector in Germany has faced the challenge of organizing access to childcare for many newly arrived children and their families – a process that has been shaped by uncertainty for policymakers and service providers alike. The article analyses data from the first survey among ECEC centres throughout Germany on this topic. It sheds light on enrolment patterns of refugee children, admission procedures, support structures and local collaboration. The results reveal the uncertainties that ECEC centres faced after the 2015 ‘refugee crisis’, and their diverse approaches. To better understand the role of ECEC centres as crucial actors in local integration processes, a conceptualization as ‘street-level’ organizations is suggested.

DOI: 10.1093/jrs/feab050
ISSN: 0951-6328