Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.4 Inclusive programmes for young people

Last update: 28 November 2023

Programmes for vulnerable young people

The education system

There are a number of top-level programmes aimed at vulnerable young people:

  • The  parliamentary act on pupils with specific educational needs states that every child in Flanders has the right to enrol in a school for mainstream education, on the condition that reasonable adaptations are made. Inclusive education is now the first option. For more information see 4.2)
  • Reception classes for nonDutch speaking newcomers (onthaalonderwijs voor anderstalige nieuwkomers OKAN) are organized in primary and secondary education
  • The Flemish government provides school allowances to help to pay the school costs. The school allowances for nursery, primary and secondary education are automatically integrated in the Growth Package.  This Growth Package is the whole of family benefits (the former child benefit) and other financial benefits that the Flemish government provides tailored to each child in every family. For children in higher education parents have to apply for school allowances. The amount depends on: the type of education, the family income, and the family situation (married, selfemployed, single). For students in higher education  the amount depends also on the residence of the student (at home or in a student flat) .

The youth sector

Masterplan on diversity in/and youth work (Masterplan diversiteit in/en het Jeugdwerk)

In 2018, the Flemish Government and the Minister of Youth Sven Gatz, together with the youth sector, launched a Master Plan on diversity in / and youth work.  The actions in this master plan on diversity are set out in a process with different milestones. The aim is to develop even more inclusive and coordinated policies for vulnerable target groups, such as children and young people with disabilities, children and young people of foreign origin, children and young people in poverty, and this in an intergenerational relationship. The Master Plan must set things in motion, and this in a sustainable way. It transcends the current legislature and contains a laundry list of ambitious actions on diversity, both towards children and young people, and more specifically in youth work itself. The Master Plan is updated annually as a result of the Day of Diversity.

The action plan is divided into four major pillars:

  1. Achieving a greater supply of youth work and provide more equal opportunities for all children and young people;
  2. Achieving more social integration;
  3. Detecting research needs, collecting data sources and making them accessible, weigh on the research agenda on diversity and monitoring;
  4. Cross-sectoral and international networking and collaboration

This plan formed the basis for several programs and projects. Some examples of projects that have been realised:

Bridge builders (Bruggenbouwers)

In 2016 the Flemish minister of youth Sven Gatz invested 750,000 euros in twelve projects that stimulate diversity in youth work in Flanders and Brussels.  Main goal was to realize youth work for children and young people in vulnerable situations (e.g. children, young people and families in poverty, with a migration background, with disabilities, in closed institutions, … ). The projects had to build a bridge, therefore called Bridge builders, between existing youth organizations or other organizations that reach children and young people in their broad diversity.

Projects Social Integration (Projecten Sociale Integratie)

In 2018, the Flemish Minister for Youth subsidized sixteen projects on Social Integration in youth work in Flanders and Brussels and this for a total amount of € 1.001.690. The selected projects bring children and young people in contact with various youth work organizations and this through meetings and cooperation. With this project call and the corresponding resources, the minister chooses to give an important impetus to the master plan and in particular to the connection between the regular and target group-specific youth organizations.

Network Youth Work for All (Netwerk Jeugdwerk voor Allen – JWVA)

The Network Youth Work for All  (JWVA) is a demand-driven network that was rolled out across Flanders in January 2018. The network consists of various organizations that work with children and young people who are in a socially vulnerable situation and / or have a disability. The network is subsidized and coordinated by the Department of Culture, Youth and Media of the Flemish Government.

Local authorities and youth organizations can appeal to JWVA to learn how they can make their activities more accessible to children and young people with a disability or in a socially vulnerable situation. JWVA offers training and guidance and, through the cooperating partners, looks for an offer that best suits these children and young people.

Projects "bridges between sport and / or youth work and children in poverty” (Bruggen tussen sport, jeugdwerk en kinderen in armoede)

The Flemish Minister for Poverty Reduction, Liesbeth Homans (term: 2014-2019), launched a call for projects "bridges between sport and / or youth and children in poverty. In total 100 project applications were submitted. From this, 19 projects were selected for a total amount of 860 432 euros. This funding allows non-profit organizations, local governments of the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community Commission in Brussels to lower the thresholds for vulnerable children and young people to participate in the existing sports and youth work by building bridges between organizations providing sports and youth work on the one hand and initiatives that reach children and young people in poverty on the other.

European Social Funds

The Flemish ESF operational programme will complement national and regional measures aimed at boosting employment and social inclusion.  The programme aims to complement the existing Flemish employment and social inclusion initiatives and encourage innovative social measures and transnational cooperation. The Flemish ESF falls under the authority of the Flemish ministers of work and social economy.  

Priorities for the Flemish programme with relevance to youth are e.g.:

  • Promoting projects for sustainable, high-quality jobs and worker mobility; and investing in education, training and lifelong learning. These areas will attract some 60% of total funding and complement the Flemish career management policy which seeks a more effective labour market. In particular, ESF projects in Flanders will focus on important transition moments in careers, such as the transition from school to work, from unemployment to work, from work to other work.
  • Some 20% of funding will support social inclusion, equality and anti-poverty projects. Projects will target the pathways into work and society for the most at-risk groups, such as Roma.


The education system

School allowances for less affluent families are funded by the Flemish Community. School allowances for pupils in nursery, primary and secondary education are incorporated in the Growth Package, the financial allowances that the Flemish government provide for every child in every family. The Growth Package is automatically paid to the families by the Flemish government service called FONS. School allowances for students in higher education are disbursed by the Flemish government service AVOHOKS  (Afdeling School- en Studietoelagen van het Agentschap voor Hoger Onderwijs, Volwassenenonderwijs, Kwalificaties en Studietoelagen).

In the school year 2018/2019, the total amount of school allowances that were granted was € 187.537.649,08; in the school year 2017/2018 this was  175.544.625,91 € . The amount of school allowances that granted has grown sharply the last decade. In 2010/2011  143.704.197,83 € was granted in total. The increase is mainly due to the automation and simplification of applications. This ensures that those who are entitled to an education allowance now also receive it. In the school year 2017-2018, 1 in 4 primary school students received a school allowance, In 2013-2014 this was only 1 in 5.

The youth sector

Information related to funding is mentioned above in the description of the program (when available).

European social funds

The Flemish ESF operational programme is worth over 1 billion euros in total:

  • 60% of total funding goes to projects for sustainable, high-quality jobs and worker mobility; and projects investing in education, training and lifelong learning.
  • Some 20% of funding will support social inclusion, equality and anti-poverty projects. 


Quality assurance

For ESF, the promoter or performer must only comply with quality registration insofar as it provides training, education, guidance, job placement, competence development and advisory services to citizens, businesses and third-party organizations. For example, promoters of ESF projects with a direct service to citizens, for example the guidance of job seekers, young people, the inactive, must comply with quality registration. For each ESF project, it will be determined separately whether the promoters and implementers must comply with the quality registration and this will always be included in the call file.

The quality assurance mechanisms for the other programmes are described where the programme / intervention is mentioned above (when available).