Sunday, June 06, 2010

Is childcare free in France?

A while back someone commented that childcare is free in France. This is not true. As far as I know, you can get many form of helps from the government but at least 15% remain at your own charge.

If both parents are working, there are several childcare options, the most common ones being putting your kid in a government / community runs daycare center or hiring a baby sitter.

Apparently daycare is a cheaper option but it is difficult to get a spot. In our community, we have 3 daycares with about 70 spots, considering that every month we have on average 15 newborns and daycares are open for kids from 0 - 3 years old, it would be very lucky if you get accepted since the first try. I do not know what are the selection criterias, we enrolled since Aelig was 4 months in my stomach but we didn't get accepted.

So, we opted for the second choice: a baby sitter. We got a list from the Town Hall and tried to contact some of them who lived in our areas, but a lot of them do not work on Wednesday, or they do not want to work after certain hours. We consider ourselves lucky as after browsing through the list, only one was still available. To have more choice, I called the Town Hall and got a contact of someone who just got certified. We got a nice feeling with her during the interview and decided to "hire" her. Ever since, she has been magnificent and supportive, she helped us through the difficult period when hubby hurt his ankle. We are very blessed to have someone who adores Aelig and who do not mind working long hours.

So, how much a baby sitter costs actually? That was a question I asked before having Aelig. It depends pretty much on your household income as the government does provide some helps to finance the childcare. There are two principal rates : gross wage per hour and maintenance cost (water, electricity etc) per day. Our sitter charges us 3.80 euros an hour + 2.81 euros per day. She takes care of Aelig 45 hours a week which translates into 741 euros a month. She has to pay for her part of social charges which is around 170 euros per month. Her net income = 741 euros - 170 euros = 571 euros. As her employer, we pay her net income plus the maintenance cost of 2.81 per day. Overall, we pay her around 630 euros every month. The government takes care of 100% employer social charges (retirement, medical care; work accident, unemployment insurance...) which results in around 300 per month.

So, we have an outflow of about 630 euros a month for childcare services. However, depending on your household income, you might get some inflow as you are qualified for childcare stipends. For household who does not earn more than 43365 euros in 2008 with only one child to support, you could get the basic stipend = 177.95 euros a month until the kid turns 3 years old. Besides, there are 3 categories of stipend specifically for childcare, ranking from 167.07 euros a month to 441.63 euros a month. No matter in which category you are, a minimum of 15% of the sitter net income is on your charge.

I hope this information could provide some helps for people who do not read French. We got a booklet when I was pregnant and it explains very well all kind of helps you could get. For those who could read French you have more accurate and updated information on the government website

1 comment:

  1. No babies yet but info is much appreciated. Don't think I will count on govt childcare stipends though lol