Switzerland moves to subsidise childcare services
The Education Commission of the Swiss government has approved a new spending package designed to support families in Switzerland. Under the plans, the state would assume 20 percent of the cost of childcare services, pumping 770 million francs a year into the system in the process.
Childcare services in Switzerland often criticised
The cost of childcare services in Switzerland is an often quoted issue for new arrivals and residents in Switzerland. Watson noted that while the alpine nation is regularly named one of the best countries in the world to live in, its childcare services are criticised for being hard to find, not to mention highly expensive.
For example, a recent study by Unicef placed Switzerland 38th out of 41 countries for childcare, a score it blamed on lack of access, low quality and high cost. The organisation concluded that in no other country do parents spend such a large proportion of their salary on childcare as they do in Switzerland.
Swiss cantons accused of not investing in childcare
According to National Councillor Kathrin Bertschy, the main reason behind the shortcomings is that offering social services like childcare is largely the responsibility of the cantons, not the government. Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, she accused cantons of failing to boost childcare services for 20 years, noting that they had “failed to make enough investments.”
Therefore, under new plans approved by the Education Commission, the federal government would assume 20 percent of the cost of childcare in Switzerland, in an effort to reduce the cost and increase the number of places available. The Federal Council would have to allocate 770 million francs a year to the scheme, which would be paid for through Swiss taxes.
More childcare equals more parents in work, supporters say
Supporters argued that with subsidised spaces created in childcare, more parents would be able to return to work and the system would become cheaper over time. Valentin Vogt, the main backer of the idea, noted that 20.000 jobs in Switzerland could be filled by parents who are currently caring for children - something that could go some way to plugging the country’s skill shortage.
While it does command support in parliament, National Councillor Matthias Aebischer noted that the idea still has a long way to go before becoming law. The idea has now passed the committee stage and an amended version is expected to be approved by the National Council in the spring. It will be implemented by 2025 at the earliest.