Childcare in Switzerland
Good childcare is an important factor when deciding to move to a new country. If you want to move to Switzerland as a German expatriate, you should inform yourself in detail about the childcare options. The regional differences are great and you should therefore inform yourself in advance about the possibilities at the municipality of residence. In the following article, you will find some important basic information that can help you.
Differences in childcare between other countries and Switzerland
Compared to other countries, there are some differences in childcare in Switzerland. Here are some of the most important differences:
- Availability: in Switzerland it can be more difficult to find a childcare place, especially in the big cities. However, the availability of places also depends on the region.
- Costs: Childcare in Switzerland is much more expensive than in other countries. However, there are financial support options, such as the family allowance.
- Quality: The overall quality of childcare in Switzerland is very high, but there can be differences in terms of facilities, educational approach and pedagogical concepts. Caregivers are usually better trained and more motivated.
- Opening hours: In Switzerland, childcare hours are shorter and more irregular than in other countries. Children usually go home around noon, which is a big challenge for working parents.
Kita (day care centre)
The day care centre in Switzerland is a facility that is open all day every day and provides the children with a hot meal. The focus is on free play, and attention is also paid to the education plan of the respective canton. The terms day care centre, crèche, day nursery, after-school care centre and day home are often used, but defined and applied differently.
Day nurseries often care for children of pre-school age, while after-school care centres are often used for short-term care during events. Tagesheim is a locally bound term, which in Basel includes recreational care for school children, while in the canton of Bern it refers only to facilities for the care of school children.
Places in day care centres are limited and waiting lists are often very long. Therefore, you should try to find a place as early as possible.
Playgroups are a popular form of childcare and education for children aged about 2.5 years until they enter kindergarten, which in Switzerland is usually at the age of 4, in some cantons not until 5. Free play is the main learning tool. Unlike daycare centres, playgroups are not subject to registration or authorisation. The exact legal framework varies from region to region.
The Swiss kindergarten is much more than just a nursery school. It is already part of pre-school and is compulsory (obligatory). In Switzerland, kindergartens therefore place a greater emphasis on education and development than in Germany. Children here receive an early childhood education that focuses on play, discovery and preparation for learning at school. Kindergarten in Switzerland lasts one or two years, depending on the canton.
It is important to know that kindergartens do not usually offer full-day care. Children usually return home for lunch and may return again in the afternoon, but not every day. Which is a big challenge for working parents. This makes it difficult to reconcile work and family life in Switzerland, forcing at least one parent to stay at home or work part-time.
The availability of and demand for daycare centres varies greatly by region. In rural areas, playgroups, which have a more limited time offer, sometimes take over the function of daycare centres in social terms.
Childminders are people who look after children in their private household. They often have children of their own and can also look after their children during the day. The care can take place on weekdays all day or during the day, if required.
In Switzerland, it is possible for parents to register their child with a childminder in order to provide flexible and individual childcare. Childminders usually do not have any pedagogical training, but are selected on the basis of their skills and experience. In some cantons, however, it is mandatory for childminders to complete a certain training before they are allowed to look after children.
The costs of childcare with a childminder are usually paid directly by the parents. However, some cantons offer financial support for childminding. It is important to note that childminding is not a regulated and supervised form of care and that parents are responsible for choosing and supervising childminders. For information regarding availability, hours and costs, you should contact the "Childcare Association Switzerland (kibesuisse)".
In Switzerland, there are family allowances that help parents financially to cover the costs of looking after their children. These allowances are granted by the social insurance funds and the federal government. The amount of family allowances depends on various factors, such as the age of the child, the number of children and the parents' income.
Most families in Switzerland receive a child allowance, which is paid once a month. The child allowance is used to cover the costs of raising, feeding and educating children. The child allowance is tax-free and is paid regardless of the parents' income. The amount of the allowance is CHF 200 per month and child (as of 2023).
In addition, some cantons have special family allowances that support families who have a particular need for financial assistance. These allowances can be granted, for example, for families with several children or for single parents.
Cross-border commuters are also entitled to family allowances under certain conditions. Family allowances are not paid out automatically. They have to be applied for!
Summary on childcare in Switzerland
In Switzerland, childcare is very expensive and often difficult to combine with a job. There are different options for childcare. Think carefully about which option best suits your family and lifestyle, and find out in detail about the costs and availability of places. There are big regional differences. It is also important to find out about family allowances. Further information on family allowances is available from the BSV (Federal Social Insurance Office).
It is advisable to start looking for childcare early, as places are often very limited. You can find out about available childcare options online or at your local municipality.
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