Objectives and accessibility
There are various childcare facilities and services. In addition to child day-care centre-based facilities (see Chapter 4.2), there are also home-based services, i.e. day-care families.
Day-care families care on a regular basis for one or more children at home. The care is very flexible and may be on an hourly, half-day or full-day basis. Day-care families care for both children under school age and children of school age.
A good 5 per cent of all children aged 0 to 12 are cared for in a day-care family (Bundesamt für Statistik 2018). This form of childcare is thus significantly less common than, for example, childcare in centre-based child day-care facilities (places in day-care families account for around 15 per cent of the childcare offer for children aged 0 to 12).
The Swiss Civil Code (Article 316) and the Swiss Federal Ordinance on the Placement of Children in Foster Care and for Adoption provide a broad framework for governing childcare. The cantons are responsible for the specific application of these provisions. They can perform these tasks themselves or delegate them to the communes or third parties (this applies to child day-care facilities and day-care families). The majority of settings for the youngest children fall under the responsibility of the cantonal ministries of social affairs, while in some cantons they are under the responsibility of the cantonal ministry of education.
Day-care families are subject to registration and supervision. In some cantons day-care families have to be approved. The responsibilities and regulations differ depending on the canton and commune. The terms of care are agreed through agencies (e.g. day-care family organisations, usually in the form of an association) or directly between two families.
The private national childcare association kibesuisse has published guidelines, a pedagogical concept and a code of conduct for institutional care in day families (Richtlinien für die institutionelle Betreuung von Kindern in Tagesfamilien; Pädagogisches Konzept für die Tagesfamilienbetreuung; Verhaltenskodex zur Prävention von sexuellen Grenzverletzungen). These are binding for day-care family organisations that are members of kibesuisse (well over 90 per cent). There are no other national binding guidelines or steering documents for day-care families. However, the non-binding orientation framework for early childhood education (Orientierungsrahmen für frühkindliche Bildung, Betreuung und Erziehung) launched in 2012 applies as well to day-care families.
Parents pay income-related fees per hour of childcare. Most communes, and in some cases also cantons, subsidise the parents' fees, sometimes also through childcare vouchers. All cantons have tax deductions for childcare costs. The maximum amount of these deductions varies from canton to canton.
Requirements for childminders and child ratios
In regulating day-care families, fewer specifications are made than for child day-care centre-based facilities. Often, only the child/staff ratio is regulated (usually a maximum of 3-5 children at a time, with own children up to 12 years of age counting as well and infants and children with special needs being rated higher). At the national level, there are no regulations in Switzerland regarding the education and training of caregivers day-care families. However, cantonal and communal regulations may stipulate that caregivers in day-care families must complete a course and further training. About half of all cantons demand those specific trainings. These trainings are generally provided by day-care family organizations and last between 25 and 60 hours.
The national association kibesuisse offers a basic training course for caregivers in day-care families with a total of 36 hours, too. This basic training course includes topics such as child safety and hygiene, pedagogy, developmental psychology and communication. The association obliges its member organisations (way over 90 percent) to ensure that all their caregivers attend this basic training as well as six hours of annual continuing professional development training. Apart from sufficient language skills, no requirements have to be met in order to complete this basic training.