What is behind the “Corona Time Out for Families” programme, which is funded by the federal government with 50 million euros? Who is eligible and are there still places available?

As part of the overall “Catching up after Corona for children and young people” package, families are to be given a respite from the stresses of the Corona pandemic. “After the enormous strain caused by the pandemic, many families long to finally get out, switch off and recharge their batteries. Not every family can afford a holiday, but everyone should be able to recover,” says Federal Family Minister Christina Lambrecht.

But what does that mean exactly? Families – including single parents – can book up to 7 consecutive overnight stays in participating family holiday centres in each of the calendar years 2021 and 2022. The federal government will cover 90% of the costs of accommodation and meals. Families with children who are entitled to child benefit are eligible if they have a low or medium income (see info box below) or receive benefits such as child supplement, housing benefit, unemployment benefit II or basic income support. Families whose child or one parent has a degree of disability of at least 50 are also eligible, regardless of income.

The family breaks can be booked directly at the participating facilities, which are spread all over Germany. All facilities must be non-profit and, in addition to accommodation and meals on site, offer a holiday programme for children and parents, such as recreational and leisure activities, courses to strengthen and educate families or to exchange with other families.
It is also important to know that there is no legal entitlement to funding and that holiday places are only available to a limited extent.

The rush on the offers

So much for the well-intentioned theory. The fact is, however, that the participating accommodations were almost fully booked shortly after the start of the programme on 1 October 2021 and were so overloaded by the wave of requests that they could not even be reached in some cases.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs said: “The measure was launched at very short notice. The aim of the Corona time-out is to enable eligible families to take a break at short notice this year for the autumn holidays in 2021. The demand for the Corona time-out is indeed high.” Now, however, improvements are to be made, as can be read on the ministry website: “We are working on expanding the capacities at the hotline and the accommodations.”

Often too expensive for Hartz IV families

Another criticism of the programme is that this “Corona holiday” is still too expensive for many families receiving unemployment benefit II or basic income support, as the travel costs, visitor’s tax and, if applicable, incidental costs for bed linen etc. have to be paid in full by the family. Train journeys to more distant places are thus unaffordable for many.

Corona time-out in Schleswig-Holstein

But why go far afield when we live in the most beautiful state in Germany? So far, 13 holiday resorts (as of 28.10.2021) in Schleswig-Holstein are also participating in the programme. However, there is usually a note that there are temporarily no more offers available. This is also the case for the participating youth hostels. On the DJH website, however, there are at least a few remaining offers – also in Schleswig-Holstein.

Prospect of more subsidised holiday offers

So it remains to be seen when, where and which family holiday centres will still participate in the future. A 3rd application phase will run from 28 October to 18 November 2021, during which holiday centres can apply for the programme. Interested families should therefore regularly check the list of holiday destinations at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs. Here you will also find details of the eligibility requirements. Further questions can also be answered by telephone on the free hotline 0800 866 11 59 (possibly not available due to overload) or by e-mail to . Likewise, the Association of Kolping Houses (Verband der Kolpinghäuser e. V.), as the central agency responsible for the programme, provides information on this on its website.

Text/Layout: Michael Oestreicher

Examples of income limits

On the website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, you can use the online check to determine whether you meet the requirements for a “Corona time-out for families”.

Here are some examples:

1st example:

Couple with two children (3 and 8 years old): the income limit of the monthly household income is 5576 euros gross per month to be eligible for a Corona time-out.

2nd example:

Couple with one child (3 years old): the income limit of the monthly household income is 4340 euros gross per month.

3rd example:

Single parent with two children (6 and 14 years): the income limit is 4958 euros gross per month.

4th example:

Single parent with one child (6 years): The income limit is 3466 euros gross per month.