Childcare — Switzerland

Overview by age

0-1 year 1-2 years 2-3 years 3-4 years 4-5 years 5-6 years 6-7 years
Primary school* (Ecole primaire Obligatory schooling)
  Kindergarten (Jardins d’enfants)  
  Day care centres** (Garderies)  
Child minders (Mamans de jour)

*Compulsory schooling starts at the age of 4.  Any child entering obligatory schooling in Geneva must have turned 4 on or before the 31st July (1P).
**Some day care centres can welcome children from 1 to 5.

In Switzerland, the institutions that offer childcare facilities are:

  • Crèches or nurseries ("Espace de Vie Enfantine"): this service accommodates children from the end of maternity leave until the child starts primary school - either full-time of part-time.

  • Kindergartens ("jardins d’enfants") and daycare centres ("garderies"): accommodate children part-time from the age of 2-5 years.

  • Play centres ("haltes-garderies /haltes-jeux"): children are taken care of for a maximum of  2 to 3 heures a day generally for children from the age of 2.

  • Family crèches ("crèches familiales"): this form of childcare is a mix between a child minder and a crèche where the child minders are able to meet regularly with a group of children regularly in a crèche.

The placement of children during their pre-school years (0-4) is usually co-ordinated and controlled by the communes. There are also some private institutions.
There is also the option of employing a childminder ("maman de jour").

The Swiss Society of Pediatrics has published a brochure which gives parents information and criteria which assists parents in making their choice of which form of childcare to use.

Information and guidance:

The Canton of Geneva is made up of 45 communes, the most important one being the City of Geneva. CERN is located in the City of Meyrin.

The service "Le service d'autorisation et de surveillance des lieux de placement" (SASLP) from the Geneva canton's Youth Office is responsible for monitoring daycare facilities in the canton.

The ELP sends links and lists useful addresses to assist parents in their search for childcare facilities. The allocation of childcare places is dependant on where the parents live or work.

You can also check with the commune where you reside.

If you encounter any difficulties (with language, understanding...), the Social Affairs Service can assist you.