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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in France

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: December 2013

Family plays an important role in France. People there tend to have a family value oriented life. It is quite common to see family members of three or more generations living together. Grandparents have the top authority in the family, while the youngest generation has the least. This especially happens in rural areas, where you may find many residents are related. 

In large cities, the families tend to be smaller as more residents are from the younger generation. In such a family, parents go out to work and the children go to nurseries or schools. Families in larger cities usually live in rented homes or apartments, although they may have other properties outside of the city or in their home town. The French may prefer not to spend a fortune on a property but you can often see families spending holidays together, playing sports together or dining together on the weekend.

 

Childcare in France

If you are moving to France with your family it is best to arrange any childcare needs before you go.
There are many types of childcare services in France such as babysitters or nannies. A babysitter is normally an adult or teenager who is a family member or friend and can temporarily care for the child. A nanny is more professional than a babysitter and usually does more work.

A nanny can be part-time or full-time. They must have a certificate to do such work and they are regulated by the state. A nanny can only look after up to five children, depending on the children’s age. If a nanny works for you for over five hours a week, you must declare yourself as an employer with the Unions de Recouvrement des Cotisations de Sécurité Sociale et d'Allocations Familiales (URSSAF).

If you have a child aged between two and a half months and three years old, you can send your child to a crèche. There are normally three types of crèche in France:

  • La crèche d’entreprise: a company crèche which is provided by your employer.
  • La crèche parentale: a parental crèche which is managed by a parental association.
  • La crèche familiale: a family crèche, in which a professional nounou (nanny) is hired to look after a number of families’ children in one home, with the costs shared between all the families.

All these crèches have professional staff to look after your child.

If your child is between three and six years old, they can attend nursery school. There are three levels as below:

  • Petite section: for children of three to four years old
  • Moyenne section: for children of four to five years old
  • Grande section: for children of five to six years old

Lunch is normally served in the school with a small fee, normally about two Euros.

If you are coming to France and French is not your mother language, it is recommended for your child to attend a nursery school as children there are not simply looked after but are involved in encouraging and supervised educational play. Your child can develop his or her language abilities to express themselves and communicate with others in French. This will help your child to prepare for future study in France. If your child is not used to this type of environment, he or she can attend for half day sessions to begin with. 

For more information about the child care services, nursery system and school systems in France you can check here: https://www.frenchentree.com/france-family-life/.

 

 

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