CERN Accelerating science

Finally a crèche at CERN, thanks to the Staff Association

Setting up at CERN a collective structure to mind children younger than two years, a so-called “crèche”, has been discussed at least since the early 1990s.

Then, in February 2001, the Equal Opportunities Advisory Panel produced a memo to the Director of Administration in which it “invites the CERN Management to re-consider the possibility of creating a crèche at CERN”.

As a result an ad hoc task force (“Bethléem”) was set up, which based its work on an informal questionnaire sent to CERN families with small children. Its study came up with some relevant parameters for “should CERN Management intend to undertake a minimal effort toward solving the crèche problem for its staff members”. Nothing was undertaken at that time.

In the framework of the 2005 five yearly review “Working Group 6: Crèche” made another study of public and private  crèches in neighbouring France and in the Canton of Geneva. The cost of various alternatives was compared, but again no decision was taken regarding establishing a crèche on the CERN site. Nevertheless agreements with local crèches were signed. First, in 2007 with the communal crèche in Meyrin (« Espace de vie enfantine des Champs-Fréchets »), where 20 places for children of CERN staff between 4 months and 4 years old have been reserved. Then, since November 2011 CERN parents can have up to 40 places for children between 4 months and 4 years old in Saint-Genis-Pouilly, France (“Jardin de Capucine”).

The creation of a crèche on the CERN site

Up to now the Staff Association’s CERN Nursery School catered for children  from the age of 2.5 until the age of 6. However, since the need for crèche places is still far from satisfied, the Staff Association, which has been in favour of extending its Nursery School to be able to accept lower-age children, has recently decided to open a crèche by extending the building of the canteen, which opened in October 2008. Therefore as of September 2013 the CJEEC (“Crèche, Jardin d’Enfants et École du CERN”) will be reorganized. First, in the crèche section there will be 13 full-time equivalent places for children between 4 months and 2 years. Then, there will be a Kindergarten section for children between 2 and 4 years, and, finally, a School section for children between 4 and 6 years old.

Killing two birds with one stone

In 2011 the Canton of Geneva decided to introduce compulsory schooling starting at four years, so that, as an employer of the CJEEC staff, the Staff Association was faced with a problem since not all the CJEEC staff had qualifications to teach in the School section. Trying to avoid lay-offs, we first negotiated with the Geneva authorities transitory measures during two years. Now, taking advantage of the creation of the crèche, we are able to keep all current staff and, moreover, open a few positions in the School section, thus bringing the CJEEC operation in full compliance with the Geneva legal educational framework. The creation of a crèche section is thus not only a welcome achievement for the CERN staff but also a development which allowed the Staff Association to be an example of a socially responsible employer who was able to find a solution for all its staff without layoffs.