Geneva: Impossible to move without abandoning your daycare


GenevaImpossible to move without giving up your nursery

In a context of scarcity of places for day care, families cannot move to another municipality without losing their day care center. City halls procrastinate.

To keep your place in a day care center, you must not leave your county.

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“We are looking for a new apartment, but only in our city, which makes the task difficult,” says a young mother from Carouge. For her and her family, this is not a matter of coquetry. “We got a place in a daycare center for our two children at the beginning of the school year. If we leave town, we will have to re-register at a new institution and we are not guaranteed to have a custody settlement by September.

In a canton with a dramatically low vacancy rate and a lack of childcare places, starting a family or expanding one often becomes a headache. And with good reason, it is the Municipalities that finance the early childhood policy and, in the vast majority of cases, reserve these places for their inhabitants. Result of the races: moving to another municipality is synonymous with losing a place in the day care center.

A proposal fallen by the wayside

Parents in this case are plethora and the known problem. So much so that the elected officials of the city of Geneva tried to introduce more flexibility. But the text, proposed in early 2020, has since been on the City Council’s agenda. It should be discussed in the summer or, more likely, in the fall.

And yet, for lack of unanimity, no revolution is expected. The original motion called for the City to “do some pioneering work” by giving children whose families left the city the possibility to finish preschool there. But, in the face of opposition from Esther Alder, then magistrate responsible for early childhood, this invitation was abandoned. The City Executive has now been asked to take the matter to the Association of Municipalities of Geneva (ACG) so that “this particularly distressing discrimination for parents stops”.

Rebalancing financial capabilities

“We favor our community members,” confirms Gilbert Vonlanthen. The president of the ACG and mayor of Bernex, however, points out that the city halls of Geneva generally show a certain flexibility: “In the event of a change, children can, in principle, finish the year”. The elected official explains that the municipalities, for the time being, face an obstacle that constitutes the deficit of places in day care centers, “this despite very substantial investments” in this public policy at the level of all municipalities. “The ideal would be to be able to meet most of the demand at the scale of the territory. But achieving that goal would require stronger support from the canton.” However, Gilbert Vonlanthen is campaigning for a review of financial equalization “with a view to a more equitable redistribution of wealth among municipalities to implement a common base of social benefits”.

Change of tone in the Executive

In 2020, Green Esther Alder objected to casting the city alone on this project out of fear that parents on the waitlist would not understand the change. A position that seems not to be shared by managing counselor Christina Kitsos, who has taken on early childhood since mid-2020 and who, at the time, supported the motion. “All the measures that can be taken to make life easier for families moving to the Geneva region must be supported.” She also suggests taking this issue to the Foundation for the development of preschool care, in which the municipalities of Geneva are represented. In addition, by 2028, the City of Geneva aims to provide 700 additional places in day care centers.

The canton of Vaud has more or less the same regime as Geneva. The territory is divided into 31 daycare networks. “The places are intended for the inhabitants of the municipality or integrated municipalities”, explains David Payot, Lausanne municipal official responsible for the Department for Children, Youth and Neighborhoods. In the event of a move, families usually get a period of time before leaving the daycare. In Lausanne, it takes three months, during which families pay full day care.

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