10.2 Administration and governance of youth work
On this page
On this page
Main public actors at community-level (Flemish Community)
The Flemish policy about youth work is part of the ‘general’ youth policy. Youth work falls under the competences of the Flemish Community, more specifically the Department of Culture, Youth and Media and the Minister of Youth. The Ministry is responsible for setting the legal framework, identifying sector-specific priorities and providing funding to the youth work sector. Within the Department of Culture, Youth and Media ‘Team Youth’ is responsible for transversal youth and children's rights policy and Flemish and (supra)local youth work policy.
‘Team Youth’ of the ‘Department of Culture, Youth and Media’ ensures the administrative follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights. Furthermore, the team implements youth policy as a socio-cultural matter. It stimulates and supports a rich and varied offer of non-commercial socio-cultural activities for young people, mainly through subsidies to associations and local authorities.
In short, the tasks of team Youth and the Department are as follows:
Preparation, follow-up, evaluation and implementation of legislation (e.g. the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan)
Funding support structures, youth organisations, youth projects, youth hostels and accommodation centres, …
Funding of investing in youth work infrastructure
Providing material support for youth work:It is a tradition, for example, for youth associations to organise camps during the summer months. The lending service for camping equipment, de Vlaamse Uitleendienst voor Kampeermateriaal (ULDK), provides tents for this purpose. There are 5,521 tents available: 2,372 senior tents and 3,249 patrol tents, good for a total of about 50,000 sleeping places.
Providing information on youth (work) policy (e.g. via the website and an e-zine)
Representing Flanders at international forums. On the one hand, team Youth is involved in bilateral cooperation projects that Flanders established with other countries or regions in the context of cultural or partnership agreements. This cooperation mainly consists of exchange programmes. On the other hand, team Youth participates in multilateral forums, which have a youth agenda, such as the Benelux, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
Next to these public actors the Youth Decree designates the Flemish Youth Council and 4 non-profit organisations, which not only provide support for Flemish youth associations, local youth services or administrations, but also help to prepare policy, implement or research it. As such, these organisations form an important link between children and young people, the youth work sector and the government and other policymakers.
These organisations are: De Ambrassade, Children’s Rights Knowledge Centre / Children’s Rights Coalition / ‘t Zitemzo, Bataljong and Jint.
De Ambrassade is an expertise centre for everything related to youth work, youth information and youth policy. It is the catalyst behind the Flemish Youth Council, the official advisory council for the Flemish Government on all areas that affect children, young people and their organisations in Flanders.
Due to the integration of the legislative framework of the youth policy with the new Youth Decree the organisations KeKi (Children’s Rights Knowledge Centre), Kinderrechtencoalitie (Children’s Right Coalition) and tZitemzo, are currently in a transition to merge into one organisation with the following tasks: to increase scientific knowledge on children's rights at national and international level, to establish an alternative national report on children’s rights based on findings of NGO’s; and to inform children and youth on children’s rights.
Bataljong is a support organisation for for local youth services, youth coordinators, youth councils and youth aldermen. Bataljong’s members are local authorities from the Dutch language area of Belgium and the bilingual Brussels Capital Region, as well as the Flemish Community Commission in Brussels. Most of the municipal authorities are members of this support organisation. It supports cities and municipalities through training, exchange, advice and publications. Since 2014, Bataljong has also focused on local youth councils and the participation of children and young people in local policies.
JINT is the coordinating body for international youth work. The Flemish government subsidises JINT to implement the European Youth Programmes in the Flemish Community, to promote cooperation for and by youth. It also has a role in shaping consultations and visioning on international youth policy.
The general distribution of responsibilities
There is increasing cooperation between municipalities and their youth associations. Youth work associations do not stop at the municipal border and often also reach children and young people from neighbouring municipalities. In some places there is cooperation across borders and so we also find intermunicipal youth work. Youth work is a shared responsibility of the Minister of Youth and the Department of Culture, Youth and Media.
The Flemish government also funds several (non-public) organisations that take part in the development of policies, programmes or actions related to youth work’s contribution to global processes of policymaking.
As mentioned, youth work is a transversal policy, which is to include not only the area of ‘culture, youth and media’ but also other policy field such as social inclusion, employment, health and housing. The Flemish Minister of Youth has a coordinating function for children’s rights. It is envisaged that each department takes its own responsibilities and defines tasks linked to the implementation of specific goals with the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan, while the minister of Youth oversees the process and reporting in the Plan’s implementation to the government. Besides the Policy Plan, the new Youth Decree envisages the following instruments of cross-cooperation in the youth policy field:
The child and youth impact report (‘Kind- en jongereneffectrapport’, or short JoKER): this specifies that any draft Act affecting young people under the age of 25 and submitted to the Flemish parliament must be accompanied by a report regarding its impact on children and youth.
Contact points for youth and children’s rights and an increased coordination: all bodies of the Flemish government must appoint a staff member as the contact point for the policy on youth and children’s rights. The Youth Policy Plan and responsible for estimating the impact of the policy prepared or implemented by their department or agency on children and young people and their rights. The division Knowledge and Policy is the coordinating administration in all these matters.
Youth Monitor: a scientific report, to be produced every five years, describing the state of the Youth in the Flemish community.
The Flemish Youth Council, also known as Vlaamse Jeugdraad, functions as the official advisory body of the Flemish Government on all matters concerning children and young people in Flanders, Belgium. The youth council plays a crucial role in representing the voices and interests of youth and youth organisations in the region. As described by the Flemish law on children's rights and youth policy, the establishment of the youth council is mandatory.
The Flemish Youth Council consists of 16 advisors, equally divided into eight young representatives, between the ages of 16 and 30, and eight youth workers. These advisors are elected respectively by young people aged 12 to 30 in Flanders and by recognised youth organisations. They form the advisory board, which convenes monthly to vote on policy advices, discuss positions and engage in policy work related to youth.
In addition to the advisory board, the Flemish Youth Council operates with working groups, consisting of engaged and enthusiastic young people who meet monthly to set up participation initiatives and write policy advice on specific themes. The working groups engage in debates, brainstorming sessions, expert consultations, and interactions with young people to gather their opinions, which are then translated into impactful advice for policy makers.
Moreover, the Flemish Youth Council includes two commissions—the Youth Work Commission and the Youth Information Commission. The Youth Work Commission is a monthly meeting that represents all organisations recognised and/or subsidised under the Flemish youth and children's rights policy. It serves as an influential body for matters related to youth work policy and the support of the youth work sector. The commission holds an open meeting but operates with a core group of fifteen individuals elected by name, based on the diversity among organisations.
As mentioned in other chapters, youth work is a transversal policy, which is to include not only the area of ‘culture, youth and media’ but also other policy field such as social inclusion, employment, health and housing. The Flemish Minister of Youth has a coordinating function for children’s rights. It is envisaged that each department takes its own responsibilities and defines tasks linked to the implementation of specific goals with the Youth Policy Plan, while the minister of Youth oversees the process and reporting in the Plan’s implementation to the government.