Practical Life in Zurich

Childcare, Babysitting in Zurich

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Switzerland has a variety of care facilities to choose from with a focus on education. Beware that spots can be limited and it is not unheard of for waiting lists to be years long. Some parents register their child before they are even born!

It is important to find a facility that works for you and your child. Some factors to consider:
Budget: It is important to know what you are able to spend to help determine where you should look. Think about the number of hours and time to day you will need a sitter to determine your total costs.
Language: Your child may need a dual language facility if they do not speak the native language. Many schools are dual or even tri-lingual staff and curriculum both for international children and to encourage early learning.
Age of Children: Choices in childcare are more limited before 3 years old, and children over 5 years old may attend public pre-school for at least half a day. Some schools require that children be potty-trained.
Service Provided: Some facilities offer occasional care or partial care (i.e. 3 days a week), while other facilities only offer full-time.

Proximity to home or work: This is often the deciding factor when choosing a child care facility. Consider your neighborhood, or the area around your work. The easier the commute, the better the situation.

When choosing a care center, also check staff turnover. Consistency in caregivers is a major benefit for your child. Make sure that you completely trust any facility or caregiver you leave your child with. This is an important element in creating a happy situation, and a happy life.

Types of Care

It is important to understand the different facilities available and the different names for them.

  • Kindergarten (German) - same in German/English, this is the first 1 or 2 years of compulsory schooling, usually below age 6-7.
  • Kleinkindergarten (German) - Infant kindergarten
  • Kinderkrippe, Krippe, Kindertagesstaette (or Kita), or Tagestaette (German) - All of these terms are used interchangeably and describe a small care center for children as young as a few months old, and up to preschool or kindergarten level.
  • Hort (German) - after school / out of school hours care
  • Spielgruppen (German) - A play group, usually organized by parents
  • Tagesmutter (German) - Day care Provider
  • Ecole enfantine or jardins d'enfants (French) - Pre-school
  • Scuola dell'infanzia (Italian) - Differs from the pre-schools in the other linguistic regions, in that it accepts children from the age of 3 and thus performs a broad range of family-supplementing childcare services. In the rest of Switzerland, other establishments provide such services.


Who is eligible?

Childcare is subsidized for children resident in Zurich. Contributions to childcare costs will be made from birth until completion of primary education. Childcare subsidies will be provided for:
places in city nurseries and after-school clubs
paid places in private establishments.

Who contributes?

Parents also contribute with their costs based on economic circumstances. Minimal and Maximaltarif for all subsidized places are set by the city council. Private establishments are free to set rates for non-subsidized places.

How do you apply?

To apply, complete a Subventionsantrag at your childcare establishment or directly from the Schul- und Sportdepartement, complete and sign it and send it to the address given. The individueller Beitragsfaktor will be determined and the Elternbeitrag (parent's contribution) will be calculated. The individueller Beitragsfaktor is re-set every year.

A complete guide can be found in the pamphlet "Familienergaensende Kinderbetreuung: Elternbeitraege und Subventionen".


Children under 5 years old usually attend a childcare center of Kinderkrippe (KK). These facilities cost between 100-150chf per day, per child. However, fees are usually dependent on your salary and subsidies help those who need it afford care.

Centers are usually open from 6:30 to 18:00. Depending on the children's age, they might go home for lunch. Other children have lunch provided by the center.

Most centers are private in Zurich are most are bilingual. The demand can be great and some people sign up for schools before the children is even born. So plan early and sign up as soon as possible. The best time to look is towards the end of summer when older children move onto kindergarten or other groups and there are slots to fill. Information and complete list of options can be obtained from social services of the relevant commune (Departement des affaires sociales or de la jeunesse).

How to Find Childcare Facility

Meeting local moms is a great way to determine availability and options. Meet at a park, playground, or try online forums like EasyExpat's Zurich forum. Also be sure to visit different care facilities to find one that works for you. Also check with the Swiss Association of Kitas to check accreditation and find resources.


Babysitting is useful if you are not looking for full time care, but need someone to occasionally watch the children. Often, this is a family member such as the grandmother, and may or may not be paid as it would be treated more like a favor. Other people may be looking for these roles as a paid position. Be sure you have recommendations and are comfortable with the person you leave your children with. Background checks are one of the benefits of going through an agency.

Childminders or Tagesmutters are often registered through the local town halls. Check with them for local resources. /p>

Expect to pay at least 10 francs per hour, per child. <

Websites like EasyExpat's Switzerland's Job Listings are another excellent resource for finding babysitters.

For consistent babysitting, you may look at an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".

Update 18/08/2011


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Dayschool: Private Kindergarten in Zurich
Officially recognized multilingual private kindergarten in Zürich. Full day care, including school holidays, professional education with German, English and French different languages from native speakers. Admission from the age of 3. Visit our website today for more information:

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