4.6 Access to quality services
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The Government of Flanders acknowledges the right to decent housing of all children and young people. It wants to make progress in this field by extending the range of housing concepts, continuing to invest in social housing and increasingly publicising existing instruments.
In 2015, the Flemish Youth Council published a point of view on youth living in poverty (Advies Wonen in armoede). Based on this, the youth associations of the Network against Poverty, Uit De Marge/CMGJ and the Flemish Youth Council organised an action moment on this issue in October 2015.
Furthermore, the sixth state reform provides the regionalisation of the major pillars of housing policy: housing bonus and legislation on rents. The Flemish coalition agreement and the policy paper on housing conducted by Minister Homans (Beleidsnota Wonen) also contains opportunities to give young people in poverty a better perspective on the housing market.
Since January 2008, a youth work plan is operative in Flanders. Through an alert and individualised support for young jobseekers (-25) the VDAB (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling - Flemish Public Employment Service) wants to tackle youth unemployment. In concrete terms this means that support for young jobseekers will take place in a faster and more individualised approach with direct mediation in which the job choices are automatically linked to the available vacancies. Among young people of which the VDAB considers that mediation alone is not enough for a quick integration into the labour market, a thorough intake and screening is conducted. Those young people move on to an intensive supervision including job hunting and job coaching.
For more information on the integration of young people in the labour market, see 3.6.
Furthermore, based on federal legislation:
- The Federal Law of 26 May 2002 on the right to Social Integration (Recht op maatschappelijke integratiewet van 26 mei 2002) states that every person has a right to social integration. This right can be given in the form of employment and/or social security allowance, possibly accompanied by an individualised project for social integration. Only people who do not have sufficient resources to draw financial rights from, can ask for a social security allowance. The law differentiates between people between age 18 and 25 and people above age 25. These two groups are supported in different ways. In addition, this law specifically recognises students as target group among the people below age 25.
- People also have the right to social services as stated in the Federal Law of 8 July 1976 on the Public Centres of Social Welfare (OCMW wet). Social services can be provided in the form of financial help (e.g. contribution in moving expenses) or in material form (e.g. food packages). It also includes social counselling and advice. The Public Centres of Social Welfare provide the most suitable care.
In Flanders, youth health is mainly observed in the various Centres for Educational Guidance (CLB’s). The doctors and paramedical workers (nurses) of the CLB carry out a number of free medical investigations during the school hours. Afterwards, the centres inform the parents of the results of medical examinations. The CLB conducts two types of consultations:
- General consultations address the general health of the pupils
- Targeted consultations are less extensive and focus - depending on the age- on certain health issues (growth and weight, visual function, color perception, eye separation, teeth ...).
Furthermore, based on federal legislation:
- (young) people who receive a social security allowance have the right to a higher compensation in their health care costs (e.g. for primary care they only have to pay 10% of the co-payment). Additionally, when the costs of medical care are still too high, some people can appeal to the system of the maximum invoice. This means that the costs, above a certain limit, are paid back in full.
See also 4.2.1 Integrated Youth Care Act.
The Flemish government is aware of and pays attention to the debt position of a large group of young people, but the financial services offered to young people remain largely limited to offering information and raising awareness.
The Flemish Support Point People and Society (Steunpunt Mens en Samenleving, abbreviated SAM) is for instance a knowledge and expertise centre regarding vulnerable people subsidized by the Flemish government. On the basis of preventive actions SAM aims to contribute to the raising awareness on i.a. debt accumulation. In march 2016, the Flemish Centre Indebtedness (VCS), which is now integrated in SAM, has for instance launched the website allesovercenten.be (all about money), directed specifically at young people.
VDAB is responsible for overall quality assurances of the VDAB services. See also 3.4 Career Guidance and Counselling.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for the monitoring and quality of the services by doing quality evaluations of the CLB services for schools.
The Flemish Centre for Indebtedness have to submit annually a activity and financial report to the Flemish Government, according to the Flemish Parliament Act of 24 July concerning the regulation for the recognition and subsidisation of institutes for debt mediation and the subsidisation of the Flemish Centre for Indebtedness. The Flemish Government defines the content and form of the report.