Child care services in Switzerland
Child care centres are managed and funded by communes within each canton. Children are admitted to facilities in their local community. Fees for public centres are charged on a sliding scale according to income. Private child care centres have fixed fees and are generally more expensive. However, waiting lists for public centres are frequently longer. It is advisable to apply for child care as soon as you know where you will be living.
Crèches (day care centres) are generally open Monday to Friday, 07:00-18:30. The age of admittance is from about three months to four years. They usually follow a pre-school curriculum. Some crèches also offer lunch and after school care for older children, up to about age 11.
Child care in Geneva
Child care in the Canton of Geneva is in great demand. Many day care centres have long waiting lists. Here are a few places to begin looking for different types of child care in Geneva:
- The Bureau d'information petite enfance (BIPE) (FR) is the early childhood information office in Geneva for children up to the age of four, and provides information on child care options, service providers, and registering for child care.
- Ville De Genéve (French) provides a comprehensive list of crèches in Geneva.
- Espace de Vie Enfantine les Tulipiers (FR) accepts children between two and four years old for mornings or afternoons.
- La Chat Botté (FR) is for children 18 months to four years old in the mornings or afternoons.
- La Louchette accepts children up to four years old.
- The Red Cross (Croix Rouge, Rotes Kreuz) (DE) offers qualified babysitting services, bookable in advance. This service is for occasional child care support.
- Geneva has part-time crèches which give priority to families living or working in the commune, and take children for up to five hours a day, but closing over lunchtime.
- Many families opt to hire an aupair.
- You can find babysitters and other child care information on Koala-ge (FR).
Starting primary school in Geneva
From the age of four it is compulsory for children to attend Kindergarten in Switzerland. Primary school is compulsory at age six. Children attend the school in their neighbourhood. Curriculum in schools includes languages, science, mathematics and art.
Public schools in Switzerland often close for the lunch period and children go home to eat. Check with your school to see if they offer lunch for the students. Parents from the school often share care responsibilities so it is always a good idea to speak with other parents at your school.
In Switzerland, children attend the school closest to their home. It is not always a possibility to visit schools before moving to an area, but all schools meet the same high standards. Each public school district has its own website with contact and application information. It is advisable to contact the local school as soon as you have registered at your permanent address.
Attending public school can help children learn the local language and make new friends. Language integration courses will be offered to students who need them. The duration of integration classes depends on the child. In surrounding villages, integration classes generally take place in the village school itself.
Instruction in English is available at private and international schools. International schools in Switzerland have their own programmes and do not require French knowledge. These are private fee paying schools and must be applied to individually.
Some international schools in the area:
- College de Leman
- International School of Geneva (has 3 campuses)
- Institute de Lancy
- Find more listings in the Hello Switzerland Directory
Learn more about public and international school options in the following articles: