Friday, 23 November 2012

Guest Blogger Series: Introducing… Michela Mantani


This week’s guest post features Michela Mantani, who talks us through navigating daycare and nurseries in Geneva.

Child play in Geneva
Image Source: Creative Commons Abby Batchelder

Finding a good school is always a top priority for expats moving abroad with children. However, nurseries and daycare are equally important for expat families with very young children, especially as they may be without the help of family and friends at first.

Geneva used to have a shortage of nursery places for children under the age of three, but this has recently changed after a Referendum held last June. So, if you are moving to Geneva in Switzerland with young babies or toddlers and you’re considering a nursery or daycare centre to help out with your childcare arrangements, here are some useful tips.

1. Crèches
All crèches located within Geneva’s city centre must be reserved through the BIPE (Bureau d’information petite enfance), but the waiting list is quite long. It’s a good idea to look at rental properties in some of the communes (municipalities) around Geneva because crèches in these areas can allocate places independently, but will obviously give priority to families living in the area.

2. Location
If you haven’t moved yet, research thoroughly beforehand 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 whereas others have several. Usually, communes with more childcare facilities will also offer a range of other baby-friendly structures such as toy libraries, playgroups, mum and baby activities, which will of course be of tremendous help to new expat parents moving to Switzerland.

3. Childminders
If you’ve already moved and are finding it difficult to find a nursery place, look at alternative options such as mamans de jour (childminders) who take care of children in their homes.

4. Garderie autogéré
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 in a nearby commune, which took children from the age of 18 months for 3 hours in the morning. This wonderful initiative is called a garderie autogéré (i.e. run on a cooperative basis) and there are a few in Switzerland and neighbouring France too.

5. Private Nurseries
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.

About the author
Michela Mantani is an expat freelance writer, blogger and mum-of-three living in Geneva since 2008. Before moving to the beautiful shore of Lac Léman, she lived in London and worked at the BBC for many years. Always on the look-out for cool, family-friendly activities she’s an absolute design, food & travel enthusiast who tries to involve her children in everything she does. You can read more about her expat family adventures in Switzerland at Geneva family diaries

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