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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki


5. Participation

5.6 Supporting youth organisations

Legal/policy framework for the functioning and development of youth organisations

Youth organisations play an important role in the implementation of Flanders’ youth policy. There are several accredited youth organisations active at Flemish level oriented towards youth work and young people in leisure time settings. The Flemish government distinguishes the following associations/projects (more information in Dutch can be found here):

  • Nationally organised youth associations (Associations of youth work with participants from at least four provinces of the Dutch-speaking region or three provinces of the Dutch-speaking region and the bilingual Brussels-Capital).
  • Cultural-educational associations.
  • Associations for information and participation. These associations perform one or more of the following objectives: 1) create or convey information for or about youth or child rights; 2) guidance of youth in their participatory processes in the policies of governments or institutions with the aim to involve the youth in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the policies of governments or institutions, 3) guiding media production by and about young people.
  • Political youth movements
  • Experimental projects or associations setting up an experimental project in one of the following areas:
    1. youth work,
    2. information to or about youth on youth policy participation,
    3. cultural education for young people.
  • Innovative projects: The Flemish Government can launch one or more calls each year for the subsidization of  innovative projects for the implementation of the Flemish youth and children's rights policy plan, the youth policy plan and the youth policy letters. In 2018, the Flemish Government launched a call for projects on social integration. This call for projects was part of the Master Plan for Diversity in / and Youth Work (Masterplan diversiteit in/en het jeugdwerk).
  • Youth houses: In almost every Flemish municipality there is a youth house. A youth house are places where diversity, youth culture, attention for vulnerable groups, a sense of creativity and entrepreneurship are strongly encouraged. Youth houses are meeting places where activities take place for and by young people between 14 and 30 years old. They are run by young people themselves, who keep the youth house open and organize activities.

Legal framework for the funding of youth organisations:

  • The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a renewed youth and children’s rights policy (see section 1.2 for more information)
  • The decree on the subsidization of supra-local youth work , youth homes and youth work for special target groups (decreet houdende de subsidiëring van bovenlokaal jeugdwerk, jeugdhuizen en jeugdwerk voor bijzondere doelgroepen) is new and applicable since 2018. Youth houses, youth work with socially vulnerable children and young people, supra-local youth work with children and young people with disabilities and intermunicipal project associations can make use of the subsidy lines described in this decree.
  • The Flemish Parliament Act of 6 July 2012 on supporting and promoting local youth policy (Decreet houdende de ondersteuning en stimulering van het lokaal jeugdbeleid): There are no more resources related to this Parliament Act, but it still obliges every municipality to set up a local youth council or to recognize an existing youth council

Public financial support

Based on The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 on a renewed youth and children’s rights policy plan the following types of organisations receive a structural subsidy for working costs and can also apply for project funding:

  • Nationally organised youth associations; in 2018 66 organisations received structural funding. the total size of the subsidy envelope (includes the structural funding and any variable funding) for the period 2018-2021 is € 25.468.757,64.
  • Cultural-educational associations; in 2018 20 associations received structural funding. The total size of the subsidy envelope for the 2018-2021 period is € 3.507.169,32.
  • Associations information and participation; in 2018 11 associations received structural funding.  The total size of the subsidy envelope for the 2018-2021 period is € 2.977.759,60.
  • Political Youth Movements are no longer eligible for subsidization.

Since January 1, 2013 the Flemish government gives also project grants to organisations for pilot projects within one of the following domains: 1) youth work, 2) information to or about youth on youth policy participation, 3) cultural education for young people. These associations can receive funding for the implementation of an experimental project. To receive project grants organisations have to submit to the Culture, Youth and Media Department no later than 1 September. In 2019 11 experimental projects received funding for a total budget of  € 494.772.

In 2018 16 innovative projects received funding for a total budget of € 1.001.690.

In 2019 83 youth houses received a funding between € 27.000 and € 45.000.The total budget for this funding was € 3.474.500.

Further, initiatives can be regional or local subsidised. However, there are no numbers available of this regional and local subsidised organisations.

Initiatives to increase the diversity of participants

The Citizen’s Cabinet (Burgerkabinet)

The Citizen’s Cabinet which was organised in 2016 by the Flemish Minister for Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels Sven Gatz formulated 16 recommendations to increase diversity in youth work. Recommendations included among others a broader world view in education, the introduction of local “bridge-builders” to create and maintain active contact between youth organisations, and the creation of an online platform to link initiatives related to diversity. The creation of an online platform will roll out the coming months.

Working group ‘Diversity Policy’

In 2016, the working group ‘Diversity Policy’ within the Youth Work Commission worked on a vision nota on diversity in youth work. Partly based on this vision, a roundtable discussion with the youth work sector was organised. Based on the vision statement, the Minister of Youth went in discussion with experts from different policy areas and about a hundred youth workers related to a wide range of youth (work) initiatives, focusing on two goals of the vision statement (Visienota Diversiteit in/en het jeugdwerk): "More equal opportunities" and  “social inclusion”. The entire process resulted in a set of policy recommendations and commitments in the sector.

Based on the recommendations of the Citizen’s Cabinet on Youth and those of the working group on diversity policy, the Minister of Youth launched a project call in December 2016, called “Bridge-builders within and to youth work” (projectoproep Bruggenbouwers in en naar het jeugdwerk). The Flemish government invested 750,000 euros into projects that ‘build bridges’ within and towards youth work. The call for projects aims to realise youth work for children and young people in vulnerable situations. The intention is to provide financial support to organisations or groups of organisations that offer a youth work that better reflects the diversity of so