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In the Flemish community, since 1 January 2013, the Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a revised youth and children’s rights policy as amended, came into force. This act described the basic instruments to implement youth policy and specifies the conditions for accreditation and funding of a large number of private organisations and youth-related associations operating on Flemish level (i.e. not organisations operating on a regional or a local level as these receive funding by the municipalities)
Regional or provincial youth work used to be supported by the provincial authorities. Since 2018, a province has no longer have community-based powers. These powers and the associated personnel were transferred to the Flemish Community or to the municipalities and cities. Since the 1st of January 2018, the provinces no longer carry out tasks in the context of culture, youth, sport or welfare. However, there are still many provincial lending services and training centers that youth associations can make use of.
Definitions according to the Flemish Parliament Act of January 20, 2012 on a revised youth and children’s rights:
- Youth work: socio-cultural work based on non-commercial purposes by or for young people of 3-30 years, during leisure time, with educational guidance and to promote the general and integral development of the young people who participate in it on a voluntarily basis.
- Youth work: any person who takes responsibility in youth work and who has verifiable experience, of makes efforts in the area of education and training in relation to youth (work).
“Youth work” or ‘youth worker’ is not defined or included in any other legislation or national policy document.
Every year, the government of Flanders estimates the budget of the next year. This budget allocation is presented to the Flemish Parliament and is discussed in parliamentary committees. The Flemish Parliament has to accept the budget allocation, before the Flemish government can use the budget for expenditure. The budget allocation also contains the means for Youth Policy.
How youth policy is funded
The budget in 2015
In 2015, the Division Youth had a budget of 67.500.000 euros to achieve its objectives. Most of the money was allocated to the Act on local and provincial youth policy (18.877.000 euros) and the Act on the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights (32.610.000 euros). Local and regional level have their own budget, next to the subventions of the Flemish Government.
The budget in 2016
In 2016, the budget allocation to the Division Youth was 42.266.000 euros. There is a decline from the budget allocation of 2015. The budget allocated to the Act on local and provincial youth policy have been reduced compared to the budget allocation of 2015. The remaining budget (1.254.000) will help support youth policy in Brussels and De Rand (‘the rim’). In 2016, the budget allocated to the Act on the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights is 32.509.000 euros and has been reduced by 21.000 euros.
The budget in 2017
In 2017, the budget allocated to the Division Youth was 42.462.000 euros. The budget allocated to the Act on local and provincial youth policy was still very low (1.185.000) and uniquely to support youth policy in Brussels and De Rand (‘the rim’). In 2017, the budget allocated to the Act on the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights is 33.057.000 euros.
The budget in 2018
In 2018, the budget allocated to the Division Youth was 50.209.000 euros. The allocated budget increased because of the transfer of provincial responsibilities to the Flemish Community. This extra fund is needed to pay overcoming personnel and to subsidise those organisations that were initially subsidised by the provinces. In 2018, the budget allocated to the Act on the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights is 37.003.000 euros.
The budget in 2019
In 2019, the budget allocated to youth within the Division Youth of the Department of Culture, Youth and Media was 69.550.000 euro. The budget allocated to the Act on the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights is 34.530.000 euro.
What is funded?
Parliament acts define the instruments of youth and children’s rights policy and the funding of local and provincial authorities and youth organisations. The Act on Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy defines instances of youth work and recognizes institutions and organisations involved with young people and also children’s rights policy, defining at the same time the allocation of finances within the system.
The Flemish Government may award operating grants once every four years to professionalised youth centers if they respond to the priorities of the Flemish youth and children's rights policy. This is done on the basis of the decree on supralocal youth work.
The policy priorities referred to in the decree are:
- Stimulating artistic expression
- stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit
- to promote social cohesion between the youth Centre and its surroundings
Youth centers can make an important contribution to the realisation of various objectives of the Flemish youth policy. They can play a role in the social, cultural, educational, media and integration policies for teenagers and young adults. These are places where impulses are given concerning diversity, youth culture, attention for vulnerable groups, a sense of creativity and entrepreneurship.
On 19 June 2013, the Flemish Parliament asked the Flemish Government to recognise youth centers as anchor points for young people in local communities and to see them as partners, especially in areas that are also a priority in the Flemish Youth Policy Plan: diversity, youth culture, community schools, vulnerable groups and a sense of creativity and entrepreneurship.
Youth centers that meet a number of conditions were able to receive subsidies for the implementation of:
- a supra-local project to promote artistic expression among young people
- a supra-local project to support entrepreneurship among young people.
Each project can receive a staff grant of maximum 40 000 euro and an operating grant of maximum 5 000 euro.
Parliament act supra local youth work, youth houses and targeted youth work
In October 27, the Flemish government accepted the draft ‘parliament act supra local youth work, youth houses and target work’. The parliament act stipulates that from 2020, youth work that is not directed at the whole Flemish community but that does respond to Flemish government priorities will be supported. The parliament act brings together different subsidy channels and supports youth work that is focused on the realization of youth work for all young people. Thereby, attention was paid to recommendations of the Council for Culture, Youth and Media, the Flemish Youth Council, the social partners and the State Council.
The parliament Act brings together different subsidy channels and is targeted at four groups:
- Professional youth houses that are focused on the Flemish youth policy priorities
- Professional youth work with vulnerable children and young people
- Supra-local youth work with children and young people with a disability
- Inter-municipal cooperation that stimulates cooperation and networking between the local authorities and youth associations
The support of supra-local youth work with children and young people with a disability and of inter-municipal cooperation are new tasks of the Flemish government, given the new tasks assigned to the provinces.
The main aspects of the parliament act are:
- A multi annual structural support for associations that anticipate the priorities of the Flemish youth policy or that develop a supra-local activity
- Project funds that provide associations opportunities to correspond to new developments
- Limiting the administrative work for initiators
- Conducting a complementary policy in respect to the local authorities
The parliament act will enter in force in different stages. For the subsidy channel ‘supra local youth work with children and young people with a disability’, transitional measures has been foreseen in 2018 and 2019 and the funding on the basis of this parliament act will start at 1 January 2020. For the subsidy channel about inter-municipal cooperation, transitional measures will be foreseen and the funding on the basis this parliament act will start at 1 January 2021.
Youth organisations play an important role in the implementation of Flanders’ youth policy. Youth organisations or youth associations usually receive funding based on specific funding regulations or grant schemes. The criteria for types of organisations funded is described in the Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012:
- Nationally organized youth associations
- Associations for participation and information
- Cultural education associations
Youth organisations or youth associations receiving an operational grant on the basis of the Flemish Parliament Act of 11 January 2012 on ‘conducting a renewed policy on youth and children’s rights’ need to submit a financial report and a report of an independent auditor, who’s a member of the institute of auditors, to the Flemish administration every year. The date and formal requirements of the reports defined by the Flemish government.
Use of EU fonds
The Flemish youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan does not (directly) use EU fonds. Some youth organisations or youth associations are supported through EU fonds. EU fonds that have been used are:
Erasmus+ is the EU funding programme for education, training, youth and sport in Europe. It runs from 2014 till the end of 2020 with a total budget of 14.7 billion euro. Within Erasmus+ there are different sections: one for education and training, one for sport and one for youth and projects. The youth section of Erasmus+ is called Youth in Action. It funds projects for and by young people and youth organisations. It has a separate budget and specific project possibilities. In 2016, the Youth in Action-programme in Flanders has a budget of 2.445.718 euro. The Flemish government has designated JINT vzw to coordinate and to implement the youth programme in Flanders. JINT vzw is in charge of information and promoting, training, funding and assessment.
The Operational Programme for the implementation of the European Social Fund (ESF) in Flanders in 2014-2020 period supports initiatives that increase employment and improve social cohesion in Flanders. In the years to come, 1 billion euro will be invested. The ESF programme lays down the priorities for the expenditure of 1 billion euro. 600 million euro is financed through the Flemish budget and 400 million euro through the European budget.
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. 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 is in charge of overseeing the process and reporting in the Plan’s implementation to the government. Youth policy is based on the group policy approach, which permeates almost every other policy sector, focusing on youth as specific group.
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 youth policy:
- Impact study new legislation on children and youth (JoKER) – this specifies that any draft Act affecting the people under the age of 25 and submitted to the Flemish parliament has to 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 have to appoint on 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.
- Youth Progress report – a scientific report, to be produced every five years, describing the state of the Youth in the Flemish community.