Organization of education and care for children under 4

There are different structures and offers in the field of extra-family care for children. The use of these offers is not compulsory; it is left to the discretion of the parents.

  • Collective day care facilities

Collective day care facilities (also called “crèches” or “nurseries”) are establishments which welcome, all day or a few hours a day, small children from the age of 3 months and up to the age to enter compulsory primary school (including nursery school or elementary school). They offer professional supervision, with meals included, and represent, from a quantitative point of view, the most predominant form of formal care. There are public reception facilities and private services. Employers can set up such structures for the children of their employees. The persons in charge of the reception structures have the obligation to ask for an authorization and the offers must be subject to monitoring. The regulations and competences in this area differ according to the cantons or the communes. Compared to other offers relating to extra-family care for children, it is collective day care facilities that are the most heavily regulated.

Day families take in one or more children at home. This form of reception allows great flexibility: childcare can be done by the hour, half-day or day. This form of care is intended for children of preschool age as well as for children of school age. Day families are required to register and are monitored (for more information on day families, see chapter 4.5).

Admission requirements and choice of structure

The age of admission varies according to the establishments and the offers – in general, admission is possible at the earliest from the age of three months and up to the age of entering compulsory nursery school, i.e. 4 or 5 years).

The admission conditions depend on the structures and the type of offer offered. Subsidized reception structures can limit admission to children who have their home or who stay in the municipality where they are located, or at least give them priority. Among the other criteria that may be applied in the event of insufficient supply, we find whether or not the parents (both) exercise a professional activity, family status (particularly in the case of people raising their children alone), that one or other children of the siblings are already taken care of in the structure in question or the social situation of the family home.

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As the recourse to the offers of reception is free, the choice of the establishment is made by the holders of parental authority.

Group size and child / staff ratios

The cantons, respectively the municipalities, regulate or implement, in compliance with national legislation (OPE), the conditions that collective day care facilities must meet in order to obtain an authorization. In this context, they enact provisions which generally concern the supervision rate (number of children per person in charge of supervision, ratio between trained and untrained educational staff, special supervision rate for infants, etc. .).

Many cantons no longer issue regulations concerning the maximum group size. Usually, it is only recommendations that are published on this subject. These cantons thus follow the national association kibesuisse which, in its current directives, no longer deliberately sets standards on the size of the groups, so as to consider the crèche more as a whole and to draw attention to the relationship between the ‘child and support staff.

Regarding the supervision ratio, the principle that applies is the following: the younger the children, the fewer of them are supervised by a single person. The standards tend to be more flexible in French-speaking Switzerland than in German-speaking Switzerland. This difference may possibly be explained by the fact that in French-speaking Switzerland, supervisory staff more often have tertiary level training. In addition, the proportion of trained personnel required is higher in French-speaking Switzerland.

The following table shows, for each age, the lowest and highest cantonal standard, as well as the average standard for the number of children taken into care by a person. The modal value is also indicated, that is to say the number of children which, by age group, is most often prescribed. For children under 2 years old, the standard that most often applies in Switzerland is that of 4 children for one person providing supervision. For children aged 2 to 4, a majority of cantons allow a maximum of 6 children per person, while from 4 years old, even 8 children can be entrusted to the same person.

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Minimum, maximum and average cantonal standards concerning the number of children per person providing supervision:

Age

Min.

Max.

Average Modal value

3

5

3.8

4

1

3

6

4.1

4

2

3

10

6.3

6

3

5

12

7.3

6

4

5

15

8.6

8

5

5

15

8.9

8

Table: Ecoplan 2020

The importance of employing well-trained staff and the influence of this aspect on quality are unanimously recognized by specialists. It is already specified in the national legislation on the matter (OPE) that the staff must have sufficient qualifications to be able to supervise children. These requirements relating to the training of reception staff are specified in all cantonal standards. Most cantons explicitly mention training as a minimum requirement. The sectors mentioned are as follows: socio-educational assistant / socio-educational assistant, orientation “child support” (CFC, [CITE 35]); qualified childhood educator (ES, [CITE 6]) or social educator (HES / ES, [CITE 6]). Similar profiles, matched with social or pedagogical skills, are generally also accepted.

Trained staff are supported by untrained staff. The majority of cantons issue standards on the proportion between trained and untrained staff. In German-speaking Switzerland, the requirements for the proportion of trained personnel are in most cases at least 50%. In French-speaking Switzerland, two out of three people must in principle have recognized qualifications. In addition, the cantons also apply different rules on how to count (or not) trainees as trained staff.

The management team is also often assisted by young adults doing an internship or their civil service. These are mostly counted in the management ratio as untrained staff. Young adults doing an internship or civil service, just like the rest of the supervisory staff who have not received teacher training, generally do not have to meet specific training requirements.

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Annual, weekly and daily organization

The cantons or the municipalities may make provisions for collective day care facilities relating to the minimum opening hours to be guaranteed per day and the minimum operating days to be offered per year ( in the majority of cases, these provisions are only valid for subsidized structures).

Most collective reception structures only close a few weeks a year, unlike compulsory school establishments (including kindergarten, which generally operate with 12-13 weeks of school holidays per year). As a rule, the reception facilities are also closed on public holidays.

The opening hours of the majority of nurseries extend all day; they often open early in the morning until around 6:30 p.m. In cities of a certain size, there are some nurseries that stay open longer in the evening or even offer overnight or weekend care.

The course of the days in the nurseries is generally defined in the educational concept developed for the structure in question. Although there are no binding regulations, there are nevertheless recommendations on this subject, for example those issued by the national association kibesuisse and those set out in the “Orientation framework for early childhood training” .

In many facilities, the day begins with a time when children who have been dropped off early at the nursery have lunch together. As the children do not all arrive at the same time, breakfast is usually followed by free play time. Until lunch, the children play in a circle, carry out activities in small groups and have a snack together. After the midday meal, the youngest take a nap, while the older ones also rest for a while. Then, the program continues with guided activities, a snack and free games. In order to prevent the course of the day from being interrupted too often, many structures impose fixed hours, before or after the midday meal, at which parents can drop off or pick up their children when they are taken care of by half. -day. A room is usually reserved for babies, so they can sleep as soon as they need it.