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Switzerland

Where Grandma Needs A Permit To Have The Grandkids Stay Over

Some working parents couldn't make it without the grandparents taking on steady child-care duties. But in Zurich, Switzerland, if the kids are with the grandparents for an extended stay, it must be reported to the city -- or the family risks a fi

Where did the parents go? (kindergentler2001)
Where did the parents go? (kindergentler2001)

ZURICH - Little David loves to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's. The two-year-old generally spends two or three nights a week at his grandparents' house. It's an ideal solution for his parents, both of whom work. "For us, it's an alternative to day care. And because my parents live at some distance from us, he often spends the night," says the child's father.

Many families would no doubt see young David's situation as pretty routine – quite normal in fact. Why shouldn't he spend quality time with his grandparents? And yet such arrangements are not something authoritites in Zurich, Switerland take lightly. There, parents who leave their children in the care of grandparents for more than two days a week on a regular basis have to report the arrangement to social services – or face a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,060). Not only that, but grandparents also need a permit.

Peter Hausherr, who heads the city office for foster children, believes that leaving one's children with relatives can indeed be a good way to manage the demands of work and raising a family -- and that as a general rule such arrangements don't need to be reported to authorities. "However, if the focal point of a child's life shifts to the relatives, then it must be reported," he told Tages-Anzeiger

Concretely, that means that any arrangement whereby a child under the age of 18 regularly spends three nights or more a week -- or 10 nights or more a month -- with other family members must be officially declared. "Regularly" is defined as a two-month period or more, which means that vacations -- assuming the child isn't spending non-vacation time with the relatives as well -- don't count, said Hausherr.

If little David were to spend any more time at his grandparents' house than he currently does, his grandparents would have to get a permit. The point of the permit, according to Hausherr, is both to protect the child and to make sure that the city can support the "foster parents' in their job. To make sure that children are being properly looked after at their grandparents', staffers in Hausherr's office make house visits. "In most cases, the relatives don't perceive the visits as check-ups but as welcome back-up," said Hausherr. The visits usually go off without a hitch. In 2011, only three families were subject to follow-up checks.

"And fines – to my knowledge, nobody has been fined for the past 10 years," he said.

Read the full story in German by Lucienne-Camille Vaudan

Photo – kindergentler21

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