Across the country there is less than one childcare place for every three preschool-aged children, according to a recent OFAS report.
There are wide regional variations. French-speaking cantons have the highest numbers of nursery places. In Geneva, there are 29 full-time places for every 100 preschool-aged children. Neuchâtel (27) and Vaud (26) are next. Cantons with the lowest rates include Glarus (8), Nidwalden (7), St. Gallen (7), Uri (4) and Appenzell-Innerrhoden (3).
These raw ratios of numbers of places to numbers of children only tell half the story. Geneva has more places partly because more are demanded. What really matters is how many parents want places but cannot find them.
The survey looks at this and finds significant unmet demand. In German-speaking Switzerland 21.7% of those seeking places for their preschoolers cannot find one. The percentages are lower in French- (16.5%), and Italian-speaking Switzerland (19.1%).
The survey also looks at after-school childcare. Similar regional variations are apparent. Unmet demand is higher in the German-speaking region (22.4%), than it is in French- (13.3%) and Italian-speaking (13.5%) cantons.
The main reasons cited for these supply-demand mismatches were cost and a lack of places. 43.1% of those left on the sideline for preschool places cited high cost. 25.2% didn’t take after-school care for the same reason. For 10.3% of pre-schoolers and 11.9% of school-aged children, parents cited a lack of available places as the reason.
Overall, the main gripes included the narrow range of options (41.7%), a lack of childcare during school holidays (38.8%) and high cost (38.1%).
The authors of the report recommend continuing the federal government programme supporting the creation of more childcare places beyond its 2019 end date.
1,181 households with a total of 1,897 children took part in the OFAS survey.