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Family Life and Childcare for Expats in Italy

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: July 2014

Family life in Italy 

Family plays an important role in Italy. Italians like to enjoy meals together and attend social activities with family members.  In the south of Italy people tend to be more satisfied with their family relations, friendships and health status compared to the north, which is more industrialised and people live more independently. In larger cities family sizes tend to be smaller as there is a higher population of younger generations. Italy has a low birth rate and child per women ratio, many attribute this to more women pursuing professions.
In a typical family both parents go to work and children attend nurseries or schools. Many families in larger cities live in rented accommodation, although they may have their own properties outside the city or in their home towns. Italians prefer to not spend a fortune on property but rather enjoy holidays together, playing sports together or dining together on the weekend. Other popular leisure activities include watching television, listening to the radio, reading newspapers and going to the cinema.

 

Childcare in Italy

In Italy, it is common to see grandparents taking the responsibility of looking after children, especially in rural areas. If you are moving to rural Italy, it may be beneficial if your parents could go with you. However, this is rarely possible or appropriate. Therefore, you will need to arrange childcare services for your children which is best to be done before your departure.

Typical childcare services in Italy are nurseries, preschools and individual childcare providers such as nannies.

Normally, a nursery can accept children from three months old. The cost of a nursery varies depending on the location, the length of childcare time needed and the type of services provided. There are some public nurseries where the cost may be less. Typical hours for a nursery are from 8:30am to 12:30pm but extended hours are available if needed.

In Italy, nurseries are not regulated at a national level. The quality and the availability can be very different from one region to another. You should note in certain rural areas you may experience difficulty finding a nursery nearby, as there may not be a sufficient number of children in the village where you live.

If your children are between three and six years old, they can go to preschool. About 95% of children in Italy go to preschool, although in the south the attendance rates are lower. Typical hours for preschools are from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
There are state-run preschools and state-subsided private preschools. State-run preschools are free of charge, while private preschools charge differently depending on the location. The average costs of private preschools can range from less than EUR100 to well above EUR500 per month, according to a survey in 2012. For detailed average monthly prices in different regions, this article is useful: https://www.cittadinanzattiva.it/aree-di-interesse/consumatori/4292-nursery-in-italy.html

You should note preschools places may be very limited in certain areas, especially in large cities. Therefore, it is best to prepare in advance.

Preschools are regulated by the Ministry of Public Education (Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, MPI) at a national level, however, there is no national curriculum.

For further information about education in Italy, please check the MPI website here: www.istruzione.it, or see State School Systems for Expats in Italy.

 

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