Switzerland is not a particularly child-friendly country. Despite efforts on the part of the public, semi-public and private sectors, it is difficult to find a place for a toddler in a day care. To make sure it works, here are some important information.

Day care places in Switzerland are rare
Day care places in Switzerland are rare

Lack of availability

Although the number of nursery places has been greatly increased in recent years with the help of start-up financing from the federal government, there is still a shortage of free places in many places, especially for babies. But it is not only the number of available places that varies from region to region. In the cantons, the same regulations for running a day care centre do not apply everywhere. That is why it is important to inquire about the applicable rules in your municipality or canton.

Day care or nursery?

In Switzerland, a distinction is made between a day care and a nursery. Day care are part of the supplementary family care offering, where pre-school children are looked after from the age of three months until they enter kindergarten. So-called lunch tables and day nurseries offer childcare for kindergarten and school children during school holidays and are therefore regarded as supplementary childcare.

Who are the children looked after by?

Infants attending a day care are looked after by pedagogically trained staff. The head of the day care and the group leader as well as the co-educators have a pedagogical education. Depending on the size of the company, the trained staff is supported by assistants without pedagogical training, apprentices, trainees or persons doing community service. However, they are not allowed to supervise a group alone, but must work together with a trained person. The care key determines how many children a caregiver may supervise alone.

The focus is on the social development of the children and discovering the world. The crèche is therefore not simply a hatkeeping service where the children are handed over. The group also promotes social development. Many companies base their work on a pedagogical concept that serves as a basis in the various areas of day care.

Organized daily routine even for the youngest ones

Accordingly, all day nurseries have a well-structured daily routine. The children are brought early in the morning, followed by breakfast. This is followed by circle games, guided activities in the groups and a common Znüni on the programme. After lunch, smaller children take a nap at noon, older children take a nap at noon. The afternoon consists of guided activities, afternoon snack and free play. To ensure that the daily routine is not interrupted too often, in many places there are fixed pick-up and delivery times before or after lunch for children who are cared for half-day. Babies usually have their own bedroom so that they can sleep at all times.

Only pedagogically trained personnel work in day care
Only pedagogically trained personnel work in day care

From when until when are the children cared for?

Most day cares are open all day, often from early in the morning until around 18:30 in the evening. On public holidays, the crèches are generally closed, and many have a week or two off in the summer. In larger towns, there are a few day nurseries that are open longer in the evenings or even offer night and weekend care. The exact opening hours must be clarified with the day nursery in question.

It is expensive to have a child looked after externally

A day care place in Switzerland is expensive. Everyone agrees on that. In most public institutions, day-care fees are dependent on income. But parents with medium and higher incomes are confronted with daily rates of up to 150 francs. In concrete terms, the costs depend on how many days and how many hours the child visits the day care or daycare centre and how many siblings it has. In addition, the costs vary from canton to canton, typically Switzerland.

One third of the household income for the day care

According to a study conducted by the University of St. Gallen in 2013, parents in Switzerland have to spend an average of about one third of their income on a place in a day care. This is twice as much as parents in the 24 European comparison countries of the study. The reason is not higher operating costs. A cost comparison carried out by the Federal Council showed that operating costs are roughly the same as in Germany, France and Austria. But the state simply asks Swiss parents to pay more. The maximum tariff in Switzerland corresponds usually to the full costs, while in the neighboring countries the maximum tariffs would lie massively under the full costs, is called it in the report of the Upper House of Parliament.

Joint activities help social development
Joint activities help social development

Early registration recommended

If you want to have your child looked after externally, you have to take care of a day care place at an early stage. It is best to do this in the first few months of pregnancy. The waiting lists are often very long, so it is best to make an appointment for an initial meeting with some of the day care that are suitable for you. During this interview you will be informed about the working method, the pedagogical concept and the admission conditions. Some nurseries hold an open day for interested parents once or twice a year. If the nursery has free places, a so-called care contract is drawn up, if there are no free places, the child is placed on the waiting list.

How to find a place in a day care

The association of day care in Switzerland is called kibesuisse. Kitaclub.ch is an online platform with a daycare directory for the whole of Switzerland. Kinderkrippen-online.ch is another useful address for searching for crèches. The municipality in which you live can also help you to find free places.

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If you take your child to a crèche, he’ll learn Swiss German in no time. Wouldn’t it be great if you spoke the same language? So sign up for our online course today.

Everything you need to know about day care in Switzerland
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