10.2 Administration and governance of youth work
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Main public actors at community-level (Flemish Community)
The Flemish policy about youth work is part of the ‘general’ youth policy. Youth work, which is part of universal youth policy, 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 there is the ‘Knowledge and Policy Division’. Within this division ‘Team Youth’ is responsible for transversal youth and children's rights policy and Flemish and (supra)local youth work policy.
Since the Flemish Parliament Act on local and provincial youth (work) policy came into force in 1993, steps were taken towards a decentralized and complementary youth policy. Since 2016, the municipalities are no longer granted funding that is exclusively meant for youth policy. The funds are integrated and stimulates the integration of youth policymaking across different policy domains. It also strengthened the autonomous authority of the municipalities concerning youth policy. In 2018, the person-oriented responsibilities are transferred to the local and regional level.
Next to these public actors the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Decree designates 5 non-profit organisations and the Flemish Youth Council, which not only provide support for Flemish youth associations, local youth services or administrations, but also help 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 5 organisations are: De Ambrassade & Flemish Youth Council, JINT, Bataljong, KeKi and the Children’s Rights Coalition.
De Ambrassade, is an 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.
JINT is the coordinating body for international youth work. The Flemish government subsidises JINT to implement the European Youth Programme 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.
Bataljong is a support organisation for municipal youth services. It supports cities and municipalities in Flanders and the Brussels Capital Region 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.
KeKi (Children’s Rights Knowledge Centre) has the comprehensive task of increasing scientific knowledge on children's rights at national and international level. They develop policy advices, both on request of the government and at their own initiative.
Children’s Right Coalition reports on compliance with children's rights in Flanders. It actively contributes to the promotion of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child by pooling information and expertise, lobbying, monitoring policy and sharing NGO recommendations.
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 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. Besides the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan, the Act on a renewed Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy envisaged three more 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 a coordinating administration: all bodies of the Flemish government must appoint a staff member as the contact point for the youth policy. The Youth Policy Plan and responsible for estimating the impact of the policy of their institution on young people. The division Knowledge and Policy is the coordinating administration in all these matters. TYouth Progress report: a scientific report, to be produced every five years, describing the state of the Youth in the Flemish community.