Every child has the right to a spot in a daycare facility in the city of Zurich. Extrafamilial childcare is voluntary and subject to a fee. In many facilities, fees are calculated according to the financial situation of parents and it is possible to apply for a subsidy. Depending on your choice of childcare, costs and flexibility will vary. The most frequent childcare solutions for babies and infants are listed here in alphabetical order.
Au-pairs are usually young people who come to Zurich from other parts of Switzerland or from abroad. Their motivation is often to learn a new language. This arrangement usually includes board and lodging with a host family, childcaring and household duties and free time to improve language skills or tend to other activites. There is often also some pocket money. In most cases stays are limited to a year.
Babysitters often take care of children for a few hours. Babysitting courses offered by the Swiss Red Cross teach basic childcaring skills. There are also professional babysitters from whom you can expect about the same experience as from a nanny.
Childminders (Tagesfamilie, Tagesmutter)
Childminders look after a small number of children in their own home on a regular basis. Parents and childminder agree on which days and for how long a child is taken care of. This is often a rather flexible solution within a reliable and familiar framework. Only few childminders are subsidized by the public or charitable organisations (for instance those matched by GFZ).
A so-called "Chrabbelgruppe" (chrabble means to crawl) is not a childcare facility in the sense that children are being taken care of while parents are at work. Instead they offer parents the opportunity to meet other parents with their children and exchange experiences. Children learn to interact with peers, be part of a group and get familiar with new faces as well as a new environment.
Crèche (Kinderkrippe, Kindertagesstätte)
In a crèche, babies, infants and sometimes children at kindergarten age are looked after on certain weekdays or the whole working week, either for whole days of half days. They have a pedagogical concept and encourage child development accordingly. Children get in touch with peers, the local language and customs. Depending on the family income, subsidized places are available in many crèches.
The UZH and ETH foundation KIHZ runs its own childcare facilities close to the different university locations. University personnel has priority in these facilities. Depending on your income, it may be possible to get a subsidized place for your child.
KIHZ offers information on its childcare centers, but also on other crèches in the university area and on English speaking childcare centers. Visit their website for details.
A nanny usually looks after children in their family home in a long-term employment. Individual arrangements are necessary and may include lodging, cooking or light housework. Nannies usually have pedagogical training or long-standing experience with children. Employing a nanny offers great flexibility when it comes to your daily planning. There is no subsidy available.
Playgroups are where children aged 3 to 5 meet in order to play in a group or engage in free play. The group remains more or less constant and supports the social development of children. A child usually attends a playgroup once to three times for about three hours per week.
Between the ages of four and five, depending on the date of birth, children begin to attend kindergarten. Kindergarten lasts two years, it is mandatory and free of charge. It aims at a step by step introduction to playful learning and at helping children develop their strengths. In the city of Zurich, kindergarten takes place five days a week in the mornings in the first year and additionally in two afternoons in the second year.
Information on kindergarten timetables, key dates for attendance and contacts in the city of Zurich can be found on the website indicated below.
For children at kindergarten age, the same extrafamilial daycare options as with infants apply. However, there are additional possibilities.
In the so-called "Tageskindergarten" children can stay all day while their parents are at work.
In the "Hort", children are taken care of by qualified staff after kindergarten or school hours. This allows children to be in a regular kindergarten, as additional care takes place for the hours not covered by kindergarten. Usually this is during lunchtime and in the afternoon.
There is also the "Mittagstisch", where children are supervised and meals are offered at lunchtime.