**Updated 28th August 2012: we are overjoyed to update our post below about the shortage of nursery places in Geneva. Following the cantonal referendum held on the 17th of June 2012, the majority of voters decided that more nursery places should be created within the canton of Geneva so the future is definitely looking brighter !**
You can click here to find out how 57,7% of voters decided that a nursery place for each child of pre-school age should be a constitutional right for all families residing in the canton of Geneva.
If you are moving to Geneva with young babies, armed with the assumption that you will be able to find a public or private nursery to take your child on the days and hours that you need, please read this post carefully.
There is a chronic shortage of nursery places in Geneva, which affects not only expats but Swiss people too. According to a survey conducted by Swiss magazine “Femina“, 66,2% of Swiss Romands believe there aren’t enough nursery places for their children and 51% of them have never been able to secure a place.
Here’s some photos of the political posters about this referendum, which you may see plastered around town.
All crèche located within the city must be reserved through the BIPE (Bureau d’information petite enfance), but the waiting list is very long.
Crèches located in the communes (municipalities) around Geneva allocate places independently but will obviously give priority to families living in the area. Prices for families living outside of these communes are exorbitant, which also makes it less of a viable option.
Especially before the age of two, the situation is really quite difficult. After the age of 2 you will have a lot more choice in terms of garderies and jardin d’enfants (open half days only)or part-time crèches, which don’t provide lunch.
Here’s some practical advice that might help you if you are in the same situation:
1. If you haven’t moved yet, do a thorough research first and find the communes that offer more childcare options so that you will have priority as a local resident. Some communes don’t have any crèches for children under the age of two, others have many.
In our case, we concentrated all our efforts in finding the right international school for our 3 year-old and just assumed we would find a nursery or private day-care centre for our youngest son in the area where we were renting. Unfortunately, the commune we ended up living in shared a crèche with 3 other villages for a total of only 16 places available for thousands of families. You do the math.
2. Look at alternative options such as mamans de jour (childminders) who take care of children in their homes. We weren’t lucky with this option either because we registered with the local association but only got one call two years later. However, other people had more luck than us. Visit the website of the Fédération Genève Enfant for more info.
3. Speak to other mums who live locally. What saved us was discovering that a group of local mums had set up their own part-time nursery called Les Ticoquins, which took children from the age of 18 months for 3 hours in the morning for around 15 CHF (Les Ticoquins, Bellevue tel. 022 959 7549). This wonderful initiative is called a garderie autogéré (i.e. run on a cooperative basis) and there are a few in Switzerland and France too.
4. Look at private nurseries. Although they are very expensive, they allocate spaces independently from the BIPE so you might have more chances to find a place for your baby. Some expat mums are very happy with the Crèche Scoubidou in Geneva and a new multilingual nursery called the Little Green House has recently opened in Gland.
To help you out on your search, here’s some useful links:
Click here for more info about Bilingual Nurseries
Click here for a list of Nurseries & Daycare in Geneva
Click here for a complete list of crèches in Geneva, divided by areas
Click here for a list of private nurseries in Geneva
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
Crèche: full-time nursery for working parents, open all day and most days of the year. You can also find part-time crèches, which close for lunch and look after children for a maximum of 5 hours a day.
Garderies & Jardins d’enfants: local day-nurseries for children between the ages of 2 and 5. Open half-days only and not every day of the week. The jardins d’enfants, although not compulsory, are part of the children’s pre-school education and therefore adopt a more educational approach.
Halte-Garderies: these playgroups/playcenters (often located within a shopping mall) offer occasional baby-sitting for children between the ages of 2 and 5 and can be useful for stressed-out parents wishing to shop without children in tow.