In Switzerland, children usually begin compulsory schooling at the age of six/seven. They often attend kindergarten two years before starting school. Childcare options for young children outside the home include crèches, playgroups, day care families or nannies/au pairs.
Usually, the gender equality office of your university is able to help you regarding child care facilities.
Crèches / Day care centres
Often, the demand for childcare facilities exceeds availability. Many of the crèches have long waiting lists. A further surprise may be the costs involved: childcare in Switzerland is very expensive. Full-time care for a pre-school child may cost up to CHF 2,000 per month. Most Swiss children only go to crèche part time.
All universities offer day care facilities. Nevertheless it is highly recommended to put your child's name on several waiting lists as soon as possible. For more information, check Kinderkrippen-online.
Day care families
Many Swiss families have their children looked after by a childminder (Tagesmutter/maman de jour) who cares for children in her own home. The childminder is a member of the Association of Childminders (Tagesmütterverein) which tries to match families and careers, taking e.g. child rearing philosophy into consideration. For additional information, contact the kibesuisse.
Since one of the goals of the au pair programme is that he/she learns the language of the country in which he/she is placed, only families speaking German, French or Italian get permission to hire an official au pair. For further information look at Profilia.
Family allowances are designed to supplement family income by providing a certain level of compensation towards the cost of raising a family. For children up to 16 years (for children who are ill or children with disabilities who are unable to work, the age limit is 20 years), you will receive a child allowance of at least CHF 200 a month for each child. For children aged between 16 and 25 who are still studying or in vocational training, you are entitled to an education allowance of at least CHF 250 for each child. The cantons may apply higher rates and provide birth and adoption allowances.
Only one allowance is paid for each child. If both parents are working, the preferred claimant (the question of who is preferred is regulated by law) receives child allowance. The other parent has the right to be paid the difference if he or she works in a different canton from the preferred claimant where the statutory allowances are higher.
Familiy allowances are not paid automatically, so you have to apply for them. You may also claim up to five years of arrears. The employer will forward the application to the relevant family compensation fund for processing. If the application is approved by the compensation fund, the employer pays the allowance every month along with the salary.
You must contact your employer or the relevant family compensation fund to report any change in personal, financial and professional circumstances (including you child’s education) that may have an effect on your right to an allowance or the level of the allowance.