Desperately Seeking Childcare
Read our low-down on the different types of childcare offered and how to find out what is available near to your home.
To search for childcare either by type of care (e.g. nanny, childminder, kindergarten etc) and/or by
location, click on the mon-enfant.fr search pages here.
Alternatively, ask at your local Mairie or Caf or, of course, other mothers.
First, however, it is a good idea to understand the options available so you pick the right care for your and your child's needs.
Different types of childcare
Un accueil collectif - is group childcare such as crèches, micro-creches (up to ten children), kindergartens etc.
In common with all childcare options, these are bound by a national code of practice and licensed by the local authorities.
They are open to children until they start school, and to children up to 6 years old outside school hours.
The carer:child ratio is one staff member per five children who can't yet walk and one per eight walking children.
The centre will calculate what you pay depending on your income and number of children, according to criteria set by the CAF
Or you can opt for une assistante maternelle, a childminder who looks after up to four children in her own home and is also trained and licensed by the local authority
You can also choose to have your child/ren looked after by an assistante maternelle in your own home - à votre domicile - (including clubbing together neighbours or friends and sharing the costs) You can choose your nanny yourself or find her through a state approved agency.
Once your child is at school, you will find pre and after school care and/or holiday care at an accueil de loisirs. These are often run by the commune or even groups of parents – although they must still be licensed by the local authorities – and opening hours depend on the needs of the community. These offer a combination of educational play and rest ties. Although the acceuil de loisirs can set tis own fees, where it receives any kind of state funding, it must adjust its fees according to parents' incomes.
The crèches d'entreprises, workplace creches, are also subject to licence and inspection by the local authorities.
The acceuil parental is basically a creche but run by a group of parents who play a part in looking after the children. They are subject to the same rules as other creches and must have qualified staff working alongside the parents.
The acceuil familial, also known as the service d’accueil familial and crèche familiale, employs trained childminders who work at home looking after up to four children, generally under 4 years old. The childminders will orten also spend one of two days a week, with their charges, at the service's headquarters mixing with other assistantes maternelles to socialise the children.
These assistantes maternelles are paid either by the acceuil familial or directly by the parent.
NB employing a childminder directly, via whatever route, is not necessarily as simple as it sounds! There is a certain amount of bureaucracy involved and although you pay the childminder yourself, you have to declare these payments to Paje which in turn sends out the payslips. You local Caf will help talk you through the procedure as well as explaining what benefits you may be entitled to.
Les maisons d'assistantes maternelles (Mams) is a relatively new development which allows assistantes maternelles whose homes are not suitable for or can't easily be adapted to cater for children to work in a secure setting with up to four fellow assistantes maternelles, each looking after up to four children. Childminders working in Mams are paid directly by the parent-employer.
Kindergartens (Jardins des enfants) are available to children from two to six years old and the opening hours are designed to complement the hours of the local maternelles (primary schools). As with other childcare options, what you pay will be calculated according to your income and number of children.
A study is currently under way to decide if it would be better to divide kindergartens into two age groups: 2-3 year olds and 4-6 year olds.
Childcare grants and tax relief
If you have children under 6, you may be entitled to the complément de libre choix du mode de garde (Cmg) with your prestation d'accueil du jeune enfant (Paje) to help with childcare costs although, whatever your income, you will have to pay at least 15% of the costs yourself.
Where you want to combine two forms of childcare, it should be possible to split your Cmj between the two - check with your local CAF what is possible.
Finally, don't forget that you may also be entitled to tax relief on your childcare costs - check this with you local centre d'impots when you fill in your tax declaration.