Anyone enjoying life in Portugal with a young family will be looking for child care options for toddlers and babies either on an irregular, a part time or on a full time basis and luckily there are many options available for families.
For children under the age of three there is no state provision of care unless there are exceptional circumstances and if this is the case then families need to speak with social services in Portugal to discuss what options are available.
In the majority of cases if you are looking for child care for children under the age of three then you will need to look to the private sector for this.
For families where both parents are working then a full time option is what is needed and there are numerous creche facilities all around Portugal.
A creche will look after children as babies and up until six years old in most cases if the child is not enrolled in the state pre-school system.
There are spaces for children in pre-schools around the country from the age of three but spaces are prioritised for older children and often parents will only be able to get their child into state pre-school from aged four and upwards. So until this point private creches are used by families for full time care.
In this sector there are fully privatised creches and there are part private, part state funded creches.
A private creche facility will usually offer smaller class sizes and increased activities for children but this of course comes at a price and if you are unable to afford this form of care then you need to enroll your child in the part private/state run creches.
These creches are usually means tested and you pay a rate for your child according to how much you and your partner earns. The creches are monitored by the state and children have qualified staff to look after them but the class sizes may be larger than in private creches.
Applications for a creche can be made from birth and it is a good idea to ask around about the best local creches in your area. In some places there are foreign language creches but in most cases the first language of the creche will be Portuguese.
If you are looking for part time car for a baby or a toddler then the private creches may be the best option as they often offer part time schooling opportunities for children and they have more flexible timetables to fit the needs of different families.
Again, look for recommendations from local families in the area who also use similar services to try and find the best solution for your family and never be afraid to ask questions and ask for a tour of the school before you enroll your child.
Finally there is the option of irregular child care, this is more suitable for families looking for a babysitter perhaps once a week or for evenings out. Here nannies or “amas” are the best bet and these are usually local people within the community who look after children on an informal basis.
Finding a suitable childminder or babysitter is down to personal preference but it is again a good idea to listen to suggestions from other families about the best people around to use and to work out what sort of rate you should be paying for this service.
There is no need to feel alone when it comes to looking for quality child care for your baby and toddler while enjoying your life in Portugal, ask about, do your research and you will find that in no time you will have found the right solution for you.