Childcare Options

Find out about the childcare options available to parents in Brazil...

In Brazil traditionally grandparents and families have helped take care of children from birth to primary school. However, increasing distances between family members and greater financial resources have led to a higher demand for child care centers and kindergartens in urban areas and many commercial nurseries and day care centers are now available to parents.

Nurseries, day-care centers and playgroups

Playgroups and pre-schools are businesses which charge for their services. They are divided into age groups and are referred to as:

  • Maternal: birth to two years of age
  • Jardim: three years old
  • Pre-Escola: four to five years

Other basic child-minding services run by the local municipal governments:

  • Berçários: for babies
  • Crèches: for toddlers

To register a child at a playgroup or nursery school, the parents will need to register directly with the school. They will need to provide the child’s birth certificate, residence contact details, a recent passport-size photograph and a medical history including most recent tetanus booster and blood type.

Nannies and au pairs

Domestic help is an integral part of the country’s employment structure and childcare is one of the main areas where women (usually) find work.

A family may hire a nanny (babá) - who may live in the family home - to take care of the children from waking them up in the morning to putting them to bed in the evening. Nannies are often young women without formal qualifications as child minders, but whose experience and education in the area develops along with the family’s trust and guidance. The nannies often become an integral part of the family, taking care of the children whenever they leave the home, and on family holidays.

Nannies (babás) may be found by word of mouth or through a recognized agency that places nannies with childminding and basic first-aid qualifications.

Whether a nanny has been found through an agency or via private recommendation, Brazilian law stipulates that the employer assumes full responsibility for the nanny's employment. This means signing work documents and making sure that all the social benefit payments and taxes are kept up-to-date.

The Portuguese website a patroa e sua empregada gives a practical step-by-step guide to the legal requirements concerning employment contracts for domestic help as well as what taxes must be paid and how to pay them. There is an annual registration fee for this service.

Informal childcare

While it's not been common practice in Brazil for mothers to form babysitting circles or use a high school, college or university student to baby-sit, young Brazilian mothers in the cities are becoming more aware of these practices and are beginning to use them.

Baby-sitting services can also be informally arranged with young women working as babás, with this work being paid for apart from any regulated child-minding services that may have been arranged.