Under city rules, the start date for places at the city’s creches depends on when children are born. The cut-off date is July 31st.
What this means is that parents of babies born on or before July 31st 2019 can access a nursery spot as of autumn this year. Parents of babies born a day later on August 1st, however, will now have to wait more than 12 months until autumn 2020 before they can hope to do the same.
Finding alternative childcare
As a result, parents of babies born after the cut-off date have to find alternative childcare solutions for a full scholastic year.
For working mothers and fathers, this can be difficult to organize, not to mention expensive.
One of the unintended consequences of the system – anecdotally at least – is that some mothers try to push forward the birth of their child, Geneva daily Tribune de Genève reported recently.
One mother with a “large baby” told the newspaper she had been advised by doctors that labour might have to be induced if the child was “too big”. When she asked if the procedure could be pushed forward so that the baby could be born by the end of July, her request was refused on the grounds that neither she nor the baby were at risk.
The mother-to-be then spent the final weeks of July eating spicy food and cleaning the windows in her apartment in a bid to bring on labour. It didn’t work. She gave birth to her son on August 11th.
“Suddenly we have to pay for an extra year of nursery care because our son won’t start school until he is five,” she said.
In yet another case, however, a doctor at a private clinic in Geneva did agree to induce birth for a mother whose baby had an August 4th due date. That child was born on July 30th.
Meanwhile, other mums have resorted to lengthy and often painful membrane sweep massages designed to induce labour.
'Coherence' with the school system
But despite the difficulties, authorities in Geneva have defended the July 31st cut-off date for the city’s nurseries, arguing it is about creating “coherence” with school cut-off dates.
In Geneva, children who are aged four on July 31st begin their first year of “school”.
In comments made to the Tribune de Genève, the head of the city’s early childhood department, Patrick Chauveau, also noted many mothers had 16 weeks maternity leave.
If babies were born at the start of August, this would mean keeping creche spots free for them until the start of January when their mothers returned to work – something that was not possible, he said.
Chauveau said he understood that parents could face difficulties and suggest they try centres like the Mary Poppins or Chaperon Rouge.