Childcare and Nursery Education

Find out about the childcare and schooling options available to parents in Switzerland, plus information on babysitting services, childminders and mother and toddler groups...

Provision of childcare in Switzerland is managed almost completely by each individual canton. Small children can be looked after in a variety of ways: by child minders, in crèches, playgroups or day nurseries or private daycare "mothers" (Tagesmutter/mamans de jour). The facilities are sometimes run by the communes and frequently by private organisations.

Information on the options is available from social services of the relevant commune (Sozialdienst/Départements des affaires sociales ou de la jeunesse or Socialdienst).

Geneva has an office to help parents choose the right day care for their children. It registers requests for day care for all the organisations.

The Bureau d'Information in Lausanne can provide lists of day care institutions in Lausanne.

Nurseries/crèches

A crèche is a day care facility for the children of working parents and provides a pre-school educational programme. Part-time crèches are also available. In general they are open from 07:30-18:30 from Monday to Friday. The cost will depend on the parent's income.

Crèche placements are in high demand so it is best to book a place as early as possible. Children are usually accepted up to the age of four. There are a large number of German-speaking and bilingual private children's playgroups (Spielgruppen) in all major Swiss-German cities.

Kindergarten

While kindergarten/nursery school is not obligatory throughout Switzerland, most children do attend for a year or two. One year's attendance is compulsory in the canton of Geneva. One year's attendance in Kindergarten is also compulsory in Swiss-German cantons, except in Basel, where two year's attendance is compulsory.

Kindergartens take children from the age of four onwards, depending on class size, and are the responsibility of the school authorities (or the local administration) of the communes. Kindergartens are free of charge in the French-speaking region, and attendance at nursery school in French-speaking Switzerland is compulsory.