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Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Childcare

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Overview Belgium (Flemish Community)

Contents

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Political, Social and Economic Background and Trends

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Historical Development

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Executive and Legislative Bodies

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Population: Demographic Situation, Languages and Religions

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Political and Economic Situation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation and Governance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Fundamental Principles and National Policies

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Lifelong Learning Strategy

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the Education System and of its Structure

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Private Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Qualifications Framework

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Administration and Governance at Central and/or Regional Level

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Administration and Governance at Local and/or Institutional Level

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Statistics on Organisation and Governance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Funding in Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Early Childhood and School Education Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Higher Education Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Adult Education and Training Funding

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Childcare

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Pre-Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures in Primary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in the First Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in the Second and Third Stage of Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and Learning in Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in Vocational Secondary Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Organisation of secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teaching and learning in secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Assessment in secondary-after-secondary education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Types of Higher Education Institutions

Belgium-Flemish-Community:First Cycle Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Bachelor

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Short-Cycle Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Second Cycle Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Third Cycle (PhD) Programmes

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Distribution of Responsibilities

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Developments and Current Policy Priorities

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Providers

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Main Types of Provision

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Teachers and Education Staff

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers Working in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Academic Staff in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Academic Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Initial Education for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Conditions of Service for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Continuing Professional Development for Teachers and Trainers Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management and Other Education Staff

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff for Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Staff Involved in Monitoring Educational Quality for Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Education Staff Responsible for Guidance in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working with Schools

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff for Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Management Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Education Staff or Staff Working in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Quality Assurance in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Educational Support and Guidance

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Special Education Needs Provision within Mainstream Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Separate Special Education Needs Provision in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Support Measures for Learners in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Guidance and Counselling in a Lifelong Learning Approach

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility and Internationalisation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Mobility in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Early Childhood and School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Other Dimensions of Internationalisation in Adult Education and Training

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Bilateral Agreements and Worldwide Cooperation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Early Childhood Education and Care

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in School Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Vocational Education and Training and Adult Learning

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms in Higher Education

Belgium-Flemish-Community:National Reforms related to Transversal Skills and Employability

Belgium-Flemish-Community:European Perspective

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Legislation

Belgium-Flemish-Community:Glossary

 

The term ‘childcare’ implies both the formal types (day care to which certain regulations apply, which is organised by professionals and for which parent pay) and the informal types (i.e. day care to which no regulation applies, or which is organised by for example grandparents/neighbours/family/friends. Normally, parents do not pay for this type of childcare).

Only the formal childcare is included in the competences of the Flemish Minister for Wellbeing, Public Health and Family.

Care for

Type of Care

Home-based care

Centre-based care

Babies and Toddlers (can be with or without pupils from primary school)

With a permit

With a permit

Pupils attending primary school (out-of-school care)

Only reported

With a certificate of supervision (a permit1)

Only reported

With a recognition

With a certificate of supervision2  

(a permit3)

1 Childcare professionals in home-based care with a permit, who explicitly chose to offer childcare to pupils only.

2 For the whole year or only for the holiday period

3 Childcare professionals in home-based care, who work together at a location with a permit for more than 8 spots.  

If parents make use of the formal childcare provision with a permit, a supervision certificate, or a recognition by Child and Family, then they are entitled to a tax reduction (subject to a certain limit) for the expenses they make concerning the day care for their children until age 12[1].

Two types of childcare exist: home-based care and centre-based care. Both in home-based care as in centre-based care, it is possible to either exclusively offer day care for babies and toddlers, or to exclusively offer day care for pupils from primary school, or to offer day care for both groups together.

Home-based care:

  • A small day care - usually with 1 childcare professional.
  • The day care is usually organised in the home of the childcare professional, but can take place at a different location as well, such as a school building.
  • The home-based care strives to care for 4 children on average. During peaks, this number can be higher. The number of children is laid down in the permit, and can never be more than 8[2].
  • This kind of day care was previously known as ‘onthaalouder’ 

Centre-based care:

  • This is a larger type of day care with multiple childcare professionals.
  • The day care is organised outside of the child’s home, usually in a building especially destined for childcare.
  • In centre-based care, a minimum of 9 children is simultaneously present. Children are taken care of in groups of maximum 18 children[3].
  • The maximum amount of children that is allowed per childcare professional amounts to 8 when 1 childcare professional is present. When more childcare professionals are present, the maximum amount rises to 9 per childcare professional.
  • This kind of day care was previously known as ‘kinderdagverblijf’. 

On April 1st, 2014, a new  Parliamentary Act on the Organisation of Childcare for Babies and Toddlers entered into force in Flanders. With this new act, old rules are suspended and the diverging rules and financing concerning the previously independent, recognised and subsidised care are brought into line. Full implementation of this new act is estimated to be completed by 2020.

Childcare for babies and toddlers is accessible for all babies and toddlers until they go to pre-primary school. In practice, most children switch to pre-school education at the age of 2,5 years.

From April 1st, 2014, all professional and paid day care centres for babies and toddlers must have a permit. In addition to the day care for babies and toddlers with a permit, only informal day care for babies and toddlers is allowed (i.e. non-professional day care arranged by grandparents, friends, or family).

When a day care centre has acquired a permit, Child and Family will regularly evaluate whether the legal requirements are still sufficiently met. The verdict of Child and Family is inter alia based on the evidence gathered by the Agency for Care Inspection, which carries out research ‘on the ground’. The Agency for Care Inspection is a separate agency of the Flemish Government, that is responsible for the inspection of all services (such as day care centres) acknowledged, certified, permitted or subsidised by the Department of Wellbeing, Public Health and Family, or any of its agencies.

Specific conditions are linked to the acquisition of a permit; requirements that consider the specificity of the age group of babies and toddlers, and concern i.a. infrastructure, hygiene, security, quality and personnel qualifications.

The system for subsidies concerning formal day care of babies and toddlers, reflects a staircase starting at step 0. Per step, additional assignments/conditions have to be met. Hence, the higher one climbs, the larger the amount of subsidy one receives, but also the more requirements one has to fulfil. 

 

 

 

Step 3

 

 

Step 2

Additional subsidy

 

Step 1

Subsidy for income-based rates

Subsidy for income-based rates

Step 0

Basic subsidy

Basic subsidy

Basic subsidy

 

Child care centres for babies and toddlers with a permit, but without a subsidy (step 0), or with a basic subsidy only (step 1), are free to set their own price that families have to pay for the care of their babies and/or toddlers. Families hence pay a price that is not related or linked to their income.

In day care centres which receive a subsidy for income-based rates (step 2) or an additional subsidy (step 3) on top of the basic subsidies, parents can pay a price for the care of their baby and/or toddler according to their income. From January 2016, the minimum price amounts to 5,02 euro/day and the maximum price amounts to 27,83 euro/day. Under certain circumstances, parents can apply for an individually lowered price. The organisation of childcare for children from low-income families does not have any negative (financial) effects on the working budget of the childcare location.

Day care centres receiving step 2 and/or 3 in subsidies, are obliged to maintain certain priority rules:

  • Child Care with subsidy for income-based rates (step 2) : utter priority should be granted to children from families for whom day care is absolutely necessary with regard to the working situation (keeping a job, seeking a job or taking part in a vocational programme in that respect). Additionally, children from single-parent families, low-income families and children from foster families are prioritised as well. 
  • Child Care with additional subsidy (step 3): realising a proactive admission policy in order to offer vulnerable families a spot in day care, tune the day care working to vulnerable families, and build up and disseminate expertise concerning dealing respectfully with vulnerable families. Additionally, step 3 day care should also strive to hire employees from vulnerable groups. 

For each step, additional subsidies for the inclusive day care for children with special needs, or for flexible day care, are possible under certain circumstances.

Accessibility

In Flanders, there is no legal right to childcare, nor a placement guarantee in day care.

As long as the childcare offer for babies and toddlers is not sufficient, the Flemish Government determines, with regards to accessibility, which groups have priority access to the childcare offer for which the organiser receives subsidies. Formal childcare for babies and toddlers does not fight disadvantaged situations but makes a difference through progressive universalism. This means that, within a universal offer, extra attention is given to vulnerable families. This implies that, inter alia formal childcare for babies and toddlers aimed at vulnerable families, is provided both with respect to content and financially, and that the expansion of formal childcare for children with special care needs, is stimulated.

Childcare facilities for babies and toddlers with a subsidy for income-based rates, or a supplementary subsidy, are obliged to respect certain priority rules (cf. above).

  • Child Care with subsidy for income-based rates (step 2) : utter priority should be granted to children from families for whom day care is absolutely necessary with regard to the working situation (keeping a job, seeking a job or taking part in a vocational programme in that respect). Additionally, children from single-parent families, low-income families and children from foster families are prioritised as well 
  • Child Care with additional subsidy (step 3): realising a proactive admission policy in order to offer vulnerable families a spot in day care, tune the day care working to vulnerable families, and build up and disseminate expertise concerning dealing respectfully with vulnerable families. Additionally, step 3 day care should also strive to hire employees from vulnerable groups. 

Geographical Accessibility

In case the Flemish Government provides financial means for the creation of new childcare locations and the maintenance of existing ones, by granting more subsidies to the existing locations, Child and Family guarantees the balanced spread of these financial measures (programmation). This procedure takes place according to objective parameters and conditions that day care centres should meet.

Day care for  

Type of day care

'Number 'of day care locations

Number of day care places

Babies and toddlers

Home-based care

5,827

31,253

Without income-related rate

726

5,039

With income-related rate

5,101

26,214

Centre-based care

2,058

56,679

Without income-related rate

949

19,523

With income-related rate

1,109

37,156

Centre-based care (collaboration)

328

3,906

Without income-related rate

 

 

With income-related rate

328

3,906

Total babies and toddlers

8,213

91,838

Number of childcare locations and childcare places for babies and toddlers in Flanders in 2014.

Source: Yearbook Child and Family 2014

At the end of 2014, the total amount of places for childcare for babies and toddlers, amounted to 91,838. Just over 65% of these places (over 60,000) is offered by centre-based care. 73% of these places concerns places in settings where parents pay a contribution for the childcare of their baby or toddler according to their income.

Admission requirements and choice of day care location

A childcare centre is obliged to offer its services to all children.

To obtain a permit some basic conditions have to be met. In addition, a number of working conditions have to be met from the first day the day care centre opens. These conditions are laid down in the Permit Decision of the Flemish Government of November 22, 2013.

Basic Conditions to start a day care facility

Child and Family assesses whether a day care meets the starting criteria on the basis of certain documents. The organiser of the day care will provide Child and Family with the following documents:

  • A statement on word of honour, in which the organiser declares that he or she
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  • Knows the working conditions and will meet them from the moment the day care is open for children,
  • Has a risk-analysis (that minimally includes safety, the prevention of wounds, accidents, live threatening situations and the disappearance of children, health and the prevention of illnesses, contamination and pollution, a road map and a time schedule to control risks),
  • Ensures pedagogical support (either through a written agreement with the pedagogical support organisation, or through a recognition of the own organisation as pedagogical support organisation).
  • The necessary documents that show that the organiser, the responsible persons, and the childcare professionals in the childcare location meet the requirements (requirements of age, proof of qualification, certificate active knowledge of Dutch, …). 

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Additionally, an organiser of centre-based care has to provide:

  • Proof that the organiser has applied to the local government for advice on the opportunity to open a day care centre in the area,
  • An infrastructure report from the Care Inspection,
  • A certificate for fire safety. 

From the moment the day care centre opens, the starting and working conditions have to be met.

Working conditions for home-based care

The maximum amount of permitted places, for which a home-based care can obtain a permit, amounts to 8. This means 8 children at maximum can be simultaneously present. On each permit, the amount of places is stipulated. This amount depends on the number of places the organiser applies for, the infrastructure, the fire security, the maximum amount of simultaneously present children according to the capacity of the childcare professional (from 1 April 2016 onwards, every childcare professional in home-based care must have a certificate of capacity drawn up by a pedagogical support organisation. The certificate stipulates the maximum amount of simultaneously present children for which the childcare professional has the capacity.)

When determining the number of children present, the pupils up until elementary school are included. Own children count up until pre-primary education when they are present in the day care. The amount of children per childcare professional has an impact on the quality of the childcare offered. Therefore, the care of 4 children on average is strived for.

Working conditions for centre-based care

In centre-based care there are at least 9 places. This is the number of children present in the day care at the same moment. For the number of children present, the pupils up until elementary school are counted. On each permit, the number of spots is stipulated. This amount depends on the number of spots the organiser applies for, the infrastructure and the fire security. Children are cared for in groups of maximum 18 children. A community is a group children linked to 1 or multiple child childcare professionals and to one or more specific rooms.

If only 1 childcare professional is present in the childcare location, a maximum of 8 children per childcare professional is allowed. If at least 2 childcare professionals are present, this number is raised to 9 children per childcare professional present. If all children are resting, the maximum amount of children per childcare professional is 14, on the condition that at least 2 childcare professionals are present and this period of time lasts maximally 2 consequent hours.

The number of children per childcare professional has an influence on the quality of the childcare provided. Therefore, an effort is asked to care for maximally 7 children per present childcare professional.

The other working conditions concern the infrastructure, safety and health, dealing with parent and children, personnel working at the day care and the organisational management (dealing with complaints, for example).

Child and Family decides on the permit that is issued for an undetermined period, on the condition that the starting and working criteria are met on the opening of the day care facility. This starting and working requirements are also valid if the same location offers simultaneous childcare for babies, toddlers and pupils attending primary education.

Quality Manual

Since the implementation of the new parliamentary act on the organisation of child care for babies and toddlers, every childcare organiser offering more than 18 places for babies and toddlers, is obliged to structurally engage in quality assurance. In this regard, the organiser works with a quality manual, which describes which quality the day care centre will offer and how this is to be realised.

A quality manual comprises a quality policy, a system for quality management and quality improvement.

  • Quality Policy

In his or her quality policy, the childcare organiser describes what is meant with quality day care for children and their families, and how he or she aims to reach this objective. The quality policy comprises the mission of the day care centre, the vision on the pedagogical policy that is applied in the day care centre, and the vision on the involvement and participation of families. 

  • System for Quality Management

In the system for quality management, the day care centre clarifies the way in which it functions. By doing so every employee in the centre knows what is expected of him or her. By describing what everyone does, the organiser can more easily manage and steer the quality of his day care centre.

  • Quality Improvement

The quality improvement collects all results from various evaluations (for example about the wellbeing and involvement of children, an evaluation by the families and the employees of the functioning of the centre and their satisfaction) and possible complaints. This information is used as a motor for improvement.

For the acquisition of a recognition, specific requirements apply, which are much like those for obtaining a permit, but depart from the specificity of the age group of the children. Currently, only organisers from centre-based care (from 9 children onwards) for pupils attending primary education, can apply for recognition. The conditions for the attainment of a recognition are stipulated in the Decision of the Flemish Government concerning recognition, supervision certificate and quality policy for out-of-school care in family or group context (May 16, 2014). These conditions concern, inter alia, infrastructure, pedagogical approach, the personnel working in the day care, and the staff qualifications, the involvement and participation of parents and children, hygiene, safety and health, and quality. The organiser of centre-based care with a permit for more than 18 places, is obliged to make a quality manual.

The specific conditions for the acquisition of a supervision certificate also depart from the specificity of the age group of pupils and concern, in the cases of home-based care (maximum 8 children) and centre-based care (from 9 children onwards), inter alia, infrastructure, pedagogical approach, the personnel working in the day care, and the staff qualifications, the involvement and participation of parents and children, hygiene, safety and health, and quality. However, the qualification requirements for the personnel are relatively less demanding and the organiser of centre-based care with a permit does not need to draft a quality manual. The conditions for acquiring a supervision certificate are stipulated in the Decision of the Flemish Government concerning recognition, supervision certificate and quality policy for out-of-school childcare in group and family (May 16, 2014).

Age Levels and Age Groups

Cf. “admission requirements” and “organisation of childcare: childcare for babies and toddlers”

Organisation of time

The organiser of childcare for babies and toddlers with a permit and a basic subsidy, ensures at least 220 opening days per calendar year, and  ensures that the facility is continuously open for minimally 11 hours, between 6.00h and 20.00h.

Organisers of childcare for babies and toddlers can obtain a supplementary subsidy for the provision of flexible opening hours: an opening time of minimally 30 minutes before 7 o’clock, minimally 30 minutes after 18 o’clock, on a day of the weekend, on a holiday, or, for centre-based care on one or more days on top of the 220 opening days that are required as a minimum for acquiring the subsidy.



[1] This fiscal regulation is a competence of the federal government, and hence does not fall within the realm of Flemish competences.

[2] These are maximum numbers, no objectives.

[3] These are maximum numbers, no objectives.