Bologna Inside - Second Edition

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Bologna’s day care centers are what the name asilo nido implies: a safe nest in which babies and small children thrive, in an atmosphere that favors well-balanced physical and emotional development. All the city’s public day care share the same division by age group: piccoli or lattanti (little or nursing) for ages 3 to 12 months, medi (medium) for ages 13 to 21 months and grandi (big) for 22 months to 3 years. Some day care offer all three sections, while others only host medi and grandi.

Parents who want to send their children to public day care must be residents or have applied for residency at the time of school registration. Registration for day care takes place in April or May. If your child was born in Italy and registered at the anagrafe you will receive information automatically in the mail. If you recently moved to Bologna or did not receive notification, go to your local ufficio scuola. Many quartieri web sites list this information.

The information packet will include an application, descriptive booklets and a list of the day care along with the dates and times of their open houses. It is possible to send your child to day care in a different neighborhood; the application, however, must be received by your own quartiere.

As may be expected, attendance at asilo nido is coveted and space is limited, especially for older babies. It is a good idea to apply to as many facilities as you can. The monthly cost of day care is determined by your yearly income, which is declared on a financial statement called an Attestazione ISEE. This document is prepared at a Centro Autorizzato di Assistenza Fiscale (CAAF); a list of centers is usually provided upon registration. For more information on CAAF offices, see Chapter 5: Work. To get the Attestazione ISEE, you need last year’s tax declarations and ending bank balances plus any liabilities such as a mortgage remaining on a home. Other than the tax forms, you can usually have the other figures written down by hand on a piece of paper - they’ll take your word for it. Your income is then divided by the number of people in your family and you are given an official estimate of your ability to pay.

It is a good idea to get your ISEE statement as soon as possible since many CAAF have heavy workloads and long waiting lists. Once you receive your statement, it is valid for one year. If your child attends day care for more than one year, you do not need to get a new statement unless your financial situation changes, for example, you move from fulltime to part-time work. In this case, it is worthwhile to update your paperwork for a lower monthly fee. Your financial position also helps determine your place on the graduatoria (ranking), a list prioritizing entrance according to need. Low income, singleparent households, children with disabilities, working parents without other relatives, and siblings, all contribute to a preferential spot on the list.


There are many private day care centers in Bologna for those who do not get a place at a public asilo nido. A list of approved centers that have a number of places at public prices is included with the registration packet. For older children, there are a few preschools that have a day care section – they are called sezioni primavera (spring section) and information is obtained by contacting the participating school directly. For those who do not require full-time day care, there are also a few centers that offer morning care two or three days a week. Bologna also offers two types of mini day care, small groups of two to five children that meet either at a private home or in an authorized center. For more information about these additional services consult the city’s website.


Most children are dropped off between 8 and 9 in the morning and picked up by 17 in the afternoon. For children older than 1 year, it is possible to extend these hours either in the morning (from 7:30) and/or in the evening (until 18). Some day care offer a part-time service with pick-up midday.

Much of the day is spent playing under the supervision of well-trained staff. In the Italian school system there is no teaching in the traditional sense until elementary school. Children in the medi and grandi sections, however, often have access to children’s theater, libraries and numerous arts and crafts. Children who stay the whole day are put down for a nap; the babies have cribs while older children use low cots. Staff regularly change diapers and help with toilet training. Activities (mostly bowel movements and eating) are recorded and can be reviewed each day when you pick up your child. Most day care have their own kitchens and prepare fresh food daily. Children eat a snack of fresh fruit mid-morning, a hot lunch, and for those who stay all day, a mid-afternoon snack. The menu is posted each calendar month along with any variations. Even picky Italian parents agree that day care centers provide a healthy and varied menu.

Expect your child to get sick once he or she starts day care. While a simple cold, runny nose or cough poses no problem, your child will be sent home if he or she has any of the

Take heart: I’m a foreigner, I have two kids, and I have never failed to get my kids in the nido, materna or elementary school that I wanted. I myself have been attending the Accademia di Belle Arti - Scuola di Nudo (as an auditor) for several years now, taking advantage of what higher education offers here too.

Elizabeth Garvey

following: fever, more than two bouts of diarrhea, conjunctivitis or any other contagious disease. Once your child has been sent home, he or she will need a doctor’s note to be readmitted. A doctor’s permission is also necessary for absences due to sickness that last more than five working days.


The gradual inserimento (integration) of children at day care can be challenging for the working parent. Although each day care has its own process, they all generally follow the same guidelines. During the first few days, parents spend a few hours at school with their child. As the days (and weeks) go by, parents are permitted to leave the child for increasingly longer periods of time. The idea is to make the transition from home to day care as painless as possible since this is the first time many children will be spending a substantial amount of time away from their families. If you plan on leaving your child all day, the inserimento process will take at least three weeks.