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Childcare and family activities in Greece

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Greece is a very child-friendly country. At least that’s what Greeks like to think. The reality is that although people are inherently friendly towards children, the societal structures make it hard for parents to get by without help from an extensive network of family and friends, or without resorting to getting a nanny or private child care. Also, the adoption procedure in Greece is an exhausting and time-consuming one that can take five years to complete.

Day care in Greece

It is an inside joke among Greeks, that the best day care is grandparents. Indeed, in this nuclear type of Mediterranean family a lot of retired grandmothers will assume the responsibility of looking after the child when the mother gets back to work -- many of them will even relocate so that they’re closer to the area their children and grandchildren reside.

There are several public childcare centres in the country -- with ninety-nine of them operating within City of Athens boundaries. They are mostly state-funded but parents have to pay an average stipend of 70 euros per month, depending on their income. The waiting list is very big and sometimes there are not enough places for kids. But if you manage to secure a spot, bear in mind that public day cares end at 4 p.m., so this makes it challenging for working parents to make it without relying on family or a nanny for at least a couple of hours. Private day cares cost 300-500 euros per month and, if you add that to the fact that currently that’s the minimum salary in Greece, it’s no wonder many women choose to quit their jobs to raise their kids themselves.

Another option is a nanny, which can cost you anything from 400-800 euros monthly. Unfortunately there is no government agency that runs checks or provides certifications for private day care centres or nannies, so you’ll have to rely on friends’ experiences and word of mouth. That being said, there’s a new website that aims to help you with that, by connecting you with a network of nannies and tutors you can later rate and evaluate.

As for pre-school, it is not mandatory. If your child is at least two-and-a-half years of age, they can be enrolled in either public or private crèches, some of which have nursery classes as well as kindergartens. To enroll at a nursery, you will need an application form, your child’s birth certificate and their health booklet. Once your child reaches the age of five years and six months on 1 October, you should enroll them in primary school for the upcoming year.

Activities with children

Depending on the area you live in, there are probably many activities you can enjoy with your young ones -- from taking them to visit one of the country’s many museums to exploring the nature to playing at a playground. There are many free, open-air playgrounds, especially in the big cities, but bear in mind some of them can be quite old. There are also several amusement and water parks across the country that the little ones can enjoy, especially in the spring and summer months.

 Important:

Greece remains a smoking country. Although most restaurants have allocated specific smoking and non-smoking zones, these are usually next to one-another. Usually most people, if asked, will be willing to put out their cigarette so that it doesn’t bother the child, but this is something you’ll have to deal with on a case by case basis.

How to adopt in Greece

To adopt a Greek child, you must be a Greek citizen (and currently it’s very hard to acquire a Greek citizenship) or a resident of Greek heritage. An exception can be made if the child has health problems or special needs, as well as if the child is of non-Greek origin. Furthermore, you must be between the ages of 30 and 60 to adopt, married or single -- but bear in mind that although Greece allows same sex civil unions, Greek Family Law does not allow not same-sex couple adoptions (so legally, it will be considered a single adoption by one of the partners). Finally, you must provide evidence of financial stability and, although there is no religious requirement in order to adopt a child in Greece, preference is given to prospective adoptive parents of the Greek Orthodox faith.

 Good to know:

Although Greece is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, domestic adoption procedures may allow birth mothers to relinquish their parental rights to a child prior to giving birth.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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