You might have noticed around Italy – nonni are the real MVPs when you are a parent in Italy. Childcare is not easy, nor very easily affordable to most families. But while striving for a more equal society and better family income – it’s also quite necessary. Maternity leave allows for at least 5 months of paid (80-100% depending) leave, but after that, many might need to find a solution. Childcare in Italy is tough if you don’t have family members – you’ll be able to find babysitters in larger cities, otherwise, you might have to look into daycare options.
With differing names and practices in Italy, it might be a little confusing when you first start looking at different daycare options or trying to find a babysitter. No worries, read on and let’s look into childcare in Italy a bit better.
Childcare in Italy: Family, Babysitters, or Daycare
Family does tend to be the go-to when people talk about childcare in Italy. Nonni love the little ones, but recently there has been a bit of a shift that makes that a tough option. For one, more families are moving away to different cities, or you might be an expat family and not have anyone nearby.
Also – with the ageing population, many nonni aren’t even retired yet, making it difficult for them to find time to provide childcare.
The other option is babysitters, or nannies, some families even love to hire an au pair if they have that available to them. This is a great option in cities, but it might be harder to find someone if you are living in a smaller town in Italy. If you are looking for a babysitter or nanny, here are a few websites that can be very helpful:
- Your local Facebook groups! (but remember to never post too much personal info, and meet with the potential sitter in advance, outside the house!)
Finally, if you are looking for more reliable, everyday childcare, you’ll probably want to look more into a daycare option. Daycare in Italy can be either public or private, let’s get into what it looks like.
Daycare in Italy
If you are looking for an everyday solution for childcare in Italy, you will probably be looking into daycare. In Italy, this is divided into what we might call “daycare”, known as “Asilo Nido” (also micro nido, nido etc), or what we would call “pre-school” which is known as “Scuola Materna. Usually, an Asilo might accept kids aged 3 months to 3 years, while a Scuola Materna accepts kids from about 2.5 years until they are ready to start school at 6 years old.
Private vs. Public daycare
You’ll find both public and private facilities in Italy, each with some pros and cons. Keep in mind both have to adhere to certain regional and national regulations to provide childcare, so you can rest assured they do have certain standards.
Public daycares are often a more economical choice, they are funded by the government, and what you pay depends on your household income. This means in some cases they are free and they are accessible to a wide range of families.
On the other hand, private daycares may offer additional services and offerings. They might be more flexible, with individual families, and they might have smaller class sizes. Additionally, some private centers follow specific educational philosophies or curricula. Though they may be more expensive, you still can get the Bonus Asili to offset the cost a bit.
Average Cost of Daycare in Italy
When it comes to choosing daycare in Italy, one important factor to consider is the cost, and this can vary significantly depending on the region you’re in. But wherever you are, in whatever circumstances, there exists both the Bonus Asilo and the Assegno Unico to help you with the cost a bit.
On average, an Italian family would spend €380 per month on daycare, with lunches and food included.
Regionally, you’ll find the north can be much more expensive – with some cities averaging €450 per month. Southern Regions might also offer private daycare at only €130 per month. There is a large range as you can see.
Every Asilo changes, but the cost often covers snacks and lunch for the children, and materials for playing, and the employees. I can say though my daycare is on the more expensive side – I am happy because it covers wipes and diapers, food and care, as well as an app that keeps parents in the loop and updated on daily menu and activities, they hire a pedagogist and a specialist in development to check in with each kid.
If considering a country-wide average, Italy is pretty even with other European countries for cost. But when you actually look at the cost of the Northern regions, you’ll see it might be more expensive. Other countries such as Norway have certain legislation in place to cap daycare spending. While there is not the same plan in place in Italy, there is the Bonus Asilo to offset some of the expense.
Childcare in Italy: Daycare Hours
Typically daycare is available every weekday from about 7:30 to 6 PM (give or take!) But it is not assumed you’ll send your kid for the whole time. Usually, parents have to choose a part-time or full-time package – with differing costs.
Part-time might include a drop-off option from 7:30-9 and a pick-up option between 1-1:30, while full-time allows a pick-up between 4-6. Every daycare is different, but I have found they were pretty strict about pick-ups and drop-offs, as they try to keep the kiddos on a good routine.
With this set up, you might find that daycare is a little bit more like “school” rather than just on-call childcare. If you are looking for a more flexible type of childcare, you might want to look for a “baby-parking” or just an in-house babysitter. “Baby Parking” is a really funny name – but essentially it is flexible daycare – you can send your little one for just a few hours, just one day a week.
Availability of Daycare in Italy
Currently, there is a big issue in Italy (and from what I understand, all around the world!) of the lack of spots available in daycares. It’s been said that only 1 in 4 babies in Italy can find a spot.
Why aren’t there places? Well, it’s actually been a bit up for debate – some use the excuse, that there are fewer babies being born, so fewer people are signed up for daycare, so certain Asili can’t continue. At first glance that could make sense. But if you think that there are still no spots available for those born – and many areas of Italy have less than 33 spots per 100 kids, it seems off.
Other arguments have been for the cost- the cost of running a daycare, vs the money coming in, and the pay received for working at a daycare, all of these aspects align in a way that it doesn’t work out for a parent’s benefit. There are seemingly fewer available caretakers, and they can’t open a space.
Also here you have to realize how many parents turn to private daycare because the state-funded ones have so little availability and are much less flexible with parent hours.
If you are hoping for a spot in Italy’s public daycare, you will need to wait for a “bando” to open up. This usually happens in the Spring or Summer before the start date. However, once you apply, there may be a wait till you hear a response. And there is a possibility that you will not get a spot.
Instead, for private daycare, you might want to contact ones early on, to visit and decide who you like. You can discuss with them the possibility of getting on a list. From there it is usually first come, first serve, whoever is able to pay the deposit first will be guaranteed a spot. Aim to look at least one year out from when you would like to send your little one to daycare.
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