4.2 Administration and governance
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Social inclusion of vulnerable young people is not exclusive a youth policy theme (or any other policy area). To combat social exclusion, the Flemish government works via both horizontal and vertical consultation and planning.
Most relevant policy domains are:
At federal level:
- Employment policy (Federal Public Service Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue)
- Social security policy (Federal Public Service Social Security)
- Social Integration, Poverty & Social Economy policy (Federal Public Planning Service Social Integration, Fight against Poverty and Social Economy)
At regional (Flemish) level:
- Youth Policy and the wider policy domain of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media
- Equal opportunities policy
- Educational policy
- Welfare, public health & family policy
In the following we focus on the regional level and describe the relevant actors (Minister, Departments and Agencies) and legislation for each of the domains.
Each policy domain consists of a department and one or more agencies.
- Departments are responsible for policy preparation and policy support. They work under the direct authority and under the responsibility of the minister.
- Agencies are primarily responsible for policyimplementing tasks and have a greater degree of autonomy.
Top level authorities
Policy domain of Culture, Youth, Sports and Media
- Minister in charge of youth: Flemish Minister of Brussels, Youth and Media, Benjamin Dalle (term: 2019-2024)
- Commission on Culture, Youth, Sport and Media of the Flemish Parliament (Commissie Cultuur, Jeugd, Sport en Media)
- Department of Culture, Youth, and Media (Departement Cultuur, Jeugd en Media)
Equal opportunities policy
- Minister in charge of social : Flemish Minister for Home affairs, Administrative affairs, Civic integration and Equal opportunities, Bart Somers (term: 2019-2024)
- Commission for Home affairs, Equal Opportunities and Civic Integration (Commissie voor Binnenlands Bestuur, Gelijke Kansen en Inburgering)
- Agency of Home Affairs, responsible for Equal Opportunities (Afdeling Gelijke Kansen) and Integration (Afdeling Integratie en Inburgering)
- Agency on Integration (Agentschap Integratie en Inburgering)
- Agency for Accesible Flanders (Agentschap Toegankelijk Vlaanderen)
- Flemish Minister of education, Ben Weyts (term: 2019-2024)
- Commission on education in the Flemish Parliament (Commissie voor Onderwijs)
- Administration: Department of Education and Training (Departement Onderwijs en Vorming)
Welfare, public health & family policy
- Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health, Family & Poverty Reduction, Wouter Beke (term: 2019-2024)
- Commission on Welfare, Public Health, Family & Poverty Reduction in the Flemish Parliament (Commissie voor Welzijn, Volksgezondheid, Gezin en Armoedebestrijding)
- Department of Welfare, Public Health & Family (Departement Welzijn, Volksgezondheid en Gezin)
- Agency of Youth Wellbeing (Agentschap Jongerenwelzijn)
- Flemish Agency for Persons with Disabilities (Vlaams Agentschap voor personen met een handicap)
Main non-public actors taking part in the regulation and implementation of social inclusion of young people
Actors in the domain of youth policy
The Flemish Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner detects (warning) signs from children, young people, their immediate environment and professionals. It mediates, investigates complaints and provides policy advice - always with a view to compliance with and the application of children’s rights in Flanders. The Children's Rights Commissioner is appointed by the Flemish Parliament. A consultative and advisory board provides support to the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner in the performance of its duties. It is composed of representatives of the political groups in the Flemish Parliament and representatives of civil society and the scientific world.
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner translates structural problems into dossiers, advice, opinions and reports on bottlenecks for the Flemish Parliament. It studies certain issues related to children’s rights and the underlying problems in depth in order to provide information and advice to the Flemish Parliament. It also indicates possible ways to translate these into Flemish regulations. It tests policy initiatives, such as draft of Decrees and proposals, against the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They for instance formulated advice and reports on:
- Advice on the Flemish action plan against poverty (Advies Vlaams Actieplan Armoedebestrijding), 2020
- Advice on inclusive education (Advies over inschrijvingsrecht voor kinderen met spcifieke onderwijsnoden), 2018
- Advice on young refugees (Kinderen op de vlucht: van crisis naar nieuwe toekomst), 2017
- Advice on homelessness among children (With(out) a home. Homelessness from a child's perspective), 2016
- Advice on Early School Leaving (Advies Samen tegen schooluitval), 2016
- Report on children’s rights for specific groups in Flanders (on young refugees, traveller children, young Roma and children with disabilities), 2015
The Knowledge Centre on Children's Rights aims to increase knowledge of children's rights at national and international level. The Knowledge Centre on Children's Rights takes an interdisciplinary approach to children's rights based on scientific research.
The Children’s Right Coalition is an umbrella organisation of non-governmental organisations for the preparation, editing and distribution of a report on the way in which Flanders puts children's rights into practice.
Uit De Marge is a Flemish Centre for youth work with disadvantaged children and young people. ‘Uit De Marge” actively contributes to the realization of the rights and equal opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people in Flanders. They focus on building a high-quality youth work with disadvantaged children and young people and guide and support local and regional youth initiatives that (among others) work with disadvantaged children and young people. Uit De Marge also supports youth work in general in his efforts towards socially vulnerable children and young people and other social sectors in their relation to socially vulnerable children and young people.
Youth Work for All is a network organisation in Flanders, with a link to the Brussels Capital Region. Together with their partners, they try to ensure that children and young people with a disability and/or in socially vulnerable situations can participate in youth work as much as possible. Local youth work associations can come to Youth Work for All with training questions concerning vulnerable target groups, diversity and inclusion. The network organisation looks at each application individually and looks for the right partner.
Other NGO’s (non-governmental organisations)
A brief selection of some of the most important NGO’s in Flanders working on social inclusion (including substantial focus and work with children, youth and young people):
The Flemish network of associations against poverty (Also called Flemish Network of associations where the poor have a chance to speak - Vlaams netwerk waar armen het woord nemen)
In the Flemish Network against Poverty 59 associations work together with the ultimate aim of eradicating poverty and social exclusion. In the participating associations people living in poverty have a central role. For their functioning these associations can rely on the support of the Network team. The mutual exchange of experiences, visions, success stories and learning between the organizations is an important task for the Network. Based on the experiences and opinions of the people the associations and the Network construct dossiers on and communicate them to the government, the relevant departments, the broad society and public opinion. The Network Against Poverty is also working to improve the image of people in poverty and the elimination of prejudice.
Up until 2010, issues related to youth, such as youth care, family, youth unemployment, youth work, education ... were followed by the respective consultative groups within the Network Against Poverty. These consultative groups composed exclusively of adult people in poverty who participate in associations to the theme groups. The result was that the positions of the Anti-Poverty Network on youth-related themes were determined primarily by adults (parents) and not by young people themselves. Since 2011, a group of young people in poverty has been meeting on a regular basis. Within the 58 associations linked to the Flemish network against poverty, there are now 8 associations with a specific youth working.
De Link provides training to become an expert by experience in poverty and social exclusion, with the support of the Welfare and Society Division.
The Minorities Forum represents ethno-cultural associations in Flanders and Brussels and provides people with a migration background a voice. Within the Minderhedenforum specific actions are set up, e.g.: actions with the ethno-cultural associations in Brussels, contacts with the local consultative platforms and actions around the target Travellers and Roma. The Minorities Forum works also on a number of projects on specific subjects: “Work Up”, poverty, culture, youth and sports.
Démos is a non-partisan public research and advocacy organization. Démos' role has been embedded in the wider cultural field of Flanders by the Participation Decree. They focus on social and policy developments in culture, youth work and sports. Within this focus they:
- publish books and a magazine, organise symposia, work shops, cafés and other gatherings.
- do research and advise organisations and governments
- contribute to the development of policy and practices that focus mainly on groups and practices that are under-represented and underexposed in our society.
Consultation of young people
The Flemish Youth Council (see chapter 5 for more information on the Flemish Youth Council)
The Flemish Youth Council which is the official advisory body of the Flemish Government on all matters concerning children and young people, has formulated advice on e.g.:
- Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan (March 2020)
- Opportunities at school (November 2019)
- Juvenile delinquency law (October 2017)
- Psychological wellbeing (May 2017)
- Young people on the run (May 2016)
- Positive development of identity (with regard to the action plan on radicalization) (March 2016)
Next to the advises that the Youth Council formulates, the following initiatives within the Youth Council are also noteworthy with regard to the social inclusion of young people:
- They install different working groups each mandate. In 2018-2020 there were six working groups: diversity: representation in the media, feeling good: freedom-restricting measures, eduction: unpaid school bills, sustainable mobility, UN: sustainable living and circular economy, Europe: Future of Work & European Youth Goals.
- The Youth Council sets up different projects in which young people are questioned on various topics, such as equal opportunities, poverty, consultation and participation, etc. (De Touristenbevraging, 2020)
- About 25 young people between 16- and 26-years old work on the subject 'social inclusion' as a Youth Ambassador. They reflect on barriers for young people to participate fully in society. Together they formulate recommendations to combat social exclusion. The youth ambassadors shed light on social inclusion within the spheres of education, work and leisure. The youth ambassadors gathered input from 250 young people through focus groups and 500 youth through an online survey. They also went into dialogue with experts and policymakers. Based on this study a report was written.
In Flanders, social inclusion is a joint responsibility of the Flemish Minister of Health, Public Health and Family, the Flemish Minister of Education and Training and the Flemish Minister of Youth and its administration and agencies.
As mentioned in 1.5 Cross-sectorial approach with other ministries, youth policy is a transversal policy. It is envisaged that each ministry takes its own responsibilities and defines tasks linked to the implementation of specific goals within the Youth Policy Plan, while the Minister for Youth is in charge of overseeing the process and reporting on the Plan’s implementation to the government.
Besides the Flemish Policy Plan, the Act on Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy envisages three more instruments of youth policy:
- Impact study of new legislation on children and youth (JoKER)
- Contact points for youth and children’s rights and a coordinating administration
- Youth Progress Report
 A commission is a group of Flemish representatives, who are specialized in a particular subject, such as education, welfare or economy. A commission has fifteen permanent members and fifteen alternates, divided according to the strength of the political groups. Commissions prepare the decrees, check the Flemish government policy (e.g. through questions or interpellations to the Minister).