A new Basel City policy that has been implemented by the Basel Department of Education effective February 2015, relevant to German before Kindergarten.
One and a half years before a child enters Kindergarten, when he or she is 3 years old, parents will receive a letter and a questionnaire to test their child’s level of German (it is available in 11 different languages and is easy to administer, even for non-German speakers). If the child does not speak enough German, then he or she has to attend a German speaking group at least two half days a week. This is obligatory.
If a family moves to Basel the same year that their child enters Kindergarten they are also automatically contacted by the Basel Education Department and sent a questionnaire. They get all the data from the registration office so they are made aware whenever a family moves to Basel with a child in the relevant age group. Therefore, parents don’t need to contact the Department in order to receive information about early German language support, they are contacted automatically by the Department of Education.
Of course, depending on when a family moves to Basel (i.e. 6 months before Kindergarten entry), it might be difficult to still find a place in a play group or day care center or a similar facility. In the letter to parents the Department of Education list the contact details of the relevant placement offices that can advise parents on how to best proceed.
If the kids are Kindergarten age, they will enter Kindergarten and get language support in Kindergarten. Of course, it is not obligatory if you were not in Switzerland before the child enters Kindergarten. The idea is to make the transition easier, when possible.
Parents can choose what type of support your child gets. Parents have a duty to look for and find an appropriate place for their child.
The choice of type of care is free, the child can attend a play group, a nursery school, forest play group, be looked after by a nanny, or attend childcare while a parent takes integration of German lessons (for example at K5).
The city will pay for care at a play group if German is required (see list of approved playgroups with German support on the website, pdf ‘Spielgruppen mit Vergünstigung’). Depending on the associates income, they may receive financial support for other types of institutions, whether German is required or not for the child. Support is available to help parents find the right place for their child. All contact information is available on this website (only in German).
If you would like to call them, they will do their best to find someone who speaks English.
You are to expect a communication from the Department of Education of Basel and they are willing to help you through this process.
More information about Kindergarten can be found on the following link should you have any further questions.