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No day care for 120,000 toddlers

The current offer only covers about 40 per cent of the demand Keystone

Switzerland has a severe shortage of crèches and the problem is set to worsen as the demand for childcare is expected to rise, a study released on Monday says.

This content was published on June 27, 2005 - 12:14

The results of the first-ever nationwide survey on the subject show that 50,000 more places in daycare centres or private homes were needed to meet the demand. Currently there are only 30,000 places available.

The study, carried out by the Swiss National Science Foundation, said parents of around 120,000 pre-schoolers were on the waiting list for a place in a day nursery or private home for their child.

The authors said the 50,000 places needed to meet the demand were based on an average two days a week at a crèche.

They also said that by 2015, the demand would increase by 21 per cent, and by 27 per cent if nationwide subsidies were introduced.

The head of the research project, Susanne Stern, criticised the authorities at the cantonal and community level for not taking their responsibilities seriously enough.

Stern said federal funding – in the form of start-up capital - covered only about half the costs of operating a crèche.

Lack of coordination

She said the cantons should do more to coordinate childcare services and said local councils must take more responsibility for subsidising crèches and providing financial incentives for parents.

Companies could also play a bigger role by either setting up their own day nurseries for the children of employees, or by subsidising external services, Stern added.

The study found that income level and the price of day care are key factors in a family’s decision.

It revealed a 12 per cent drop in demand when a crèche raises its prices by ten per cent.

Older and well-educated mothers are the most likely to take advantage of childcare services.

The greatest demand is in the country’s French and Italian speaking regions, where 60 per cent of parents with pre-school children said they wanted day care.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The 30,000 places in day care centres and private homes only meet 40% of the demand.
The study says 50,000 more places are needed.
The demand is expected to increase by 21% by 2015.

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