Care for young children in Austria was formerly mostly relegated to the ‘private’ domain and particularly to mothers but in recent years it has been hesitantly yet increasingly defined as a joint task of state institutions and families. Public day care is now promoted as a guarantor of ‘equal opportunity’ and constructed as a potent means for the ‘integration’ of children of immigrants. In contrast to this normative conception of institutional child care, this research project explores subtle yet powerful processes of inclusion and marginalisation that occur during everyday interactions between pedagogues, parents and children. Inspired by recent calls in anthropology for ethnographic inquiries into the complex entanglements of kinship and the state, it aims to read across the naturalised domains of the ‘domestic’ and the ‘public’. The ‘thickening’ and/or ‘thinning’ of relatedness and belonging as well as constructions of difference at the intersection of state and family are examined by way of long-term ethnographic fieldwork in state-regulated and -funded day-care centres in Vienna.