5.6 Supporting youth organisations
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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 type of associations : (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
- 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.
Except for the political youth movements, all accredit organisations receive grants. Besides there are also different types of grants for specific projects or type of youth work:
- Experimental projects or associations setting up an experimental project in one of the following areas:
- youth work,
- information to or about youth on youth policy participation,
- 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 work with socially vulnerable youth: Once every six years, the Flemish Government can grant operating subsidies to professionalized youth work with socially vulnerable children and young people in order to create or stimulate the participation of these children and young people. This allows the children and young people involved to connect with institutions or organizations that can help them to integrate into society in order to eliminate their disadvantage or exclusion.
- Youth work with youth with disabilities: Every four years, the Flemish Government awards operating subsidies to professionalized youth work organizations to organize supra-local youth work activities towards children and young people with a disability. This grant falls under the decree on supra-local youth work, youth centers and youth work for special target groups (Decreet bovenlokaal jeugdwerk, jeugdhuizen en jeugdwerk voor bijzondere doelgroepen).
- Volunteer organizations with youth with disabilities: The Flemish Government can annually award project subsidies to a voluntary organization to organize supra-local youth work activities towards children and young people with a disability. This subsidy line falls under the decree on supra-local youth work, youth centers and youth work for special target groups (Decreet bovenlokaal jeugdwerk, jeugdhuizen en jeugdwerk voor bijzondere doelgroepen) . The subsidy amounts to a maximum of € 5,000.
- Professionalized youth centers (jeugdhuizen): Once every four years, the Flemish Government approves operating subsidies for professionalized youth centers if they respond to the priorities of the Flemish youth and children's rights policy. They must stimulate artistic expression, entrepreneurship and social cohesion with the environment.
- Inter-municipal partnerships: The Flemish Government can award an operating subsidy every six years to inter-municipal project associations that stimulate cooperation and networking between local authorities and youth work within their operating area. The first six-year period runs from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2026.
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 (decreet houdende een vernieuwd jeugd- en kinderrechtenbeleid, 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.
- The decree of 6 July 2012 on subsidies for hostels, youth accommodation centers, support structures and the non-profit organization General Service for Youth Tourism (decreet van 6 juli 2012 houdende subsidiëring van hostels, jeugdverblijfcentra, ondersteuningsstructuren en de vzw Algemene Dienst voor Jeugdtoerisme) has the general objective of promoting an adapted and varied accommodation capacity for multi-day stays for youth in general and youth work in particular. Associations or persons who make efforts to achieve this objective can be subsidized by the Flemish government.
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 (€ 80.000/year) and can also apply for project funding:
- Nationally organised youth associations; in 2021 69 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 € 25.389.083,00.
- Cultural-educational associations; in 2021 16 associations received structural funding. The total size of the subsidy envelope for the 2018-2021 period is € 3.193.788,00.
- Associations information and participation; in 2021 12 associations received structural funding. The total size of the subsidy envelope for the 2018-2021 period is € 3.043.286,00.
- Political Youth Movements are no longer eligible for subsidization
- Professionalized youth centers (jeugdhuizen): 49 youth centers received funding for operational cost for the period 2020-2023. The total size of the subsidy envelope for this period is € 3.649.450.
Regarding the specific projects or types of youth work, the following subsidies were granted:
- In 2020 11 experimental projects received funding for a total budget of € 494 772
- Regarding innovative projects, the Minister of Youth launched the following calls in 2020:
- the project call 'Connecting vulnerable children and young people with the neighborhood and society'. This call was launched to offer vulnerable children and young people a meaningful, challenging and creative leisure activity during the corona crisis. 59 projects received funding for a total of €2.125.000
- With the project call 'Connection ambassadors for youth work', the Minister of Youth and the Minister of Social Life joined forces to introduce more diversity within the different forms of youth work. 19 projects were selected and received funding for a total of €1.338.547,94
- In 2020, 14 supra-local youth work organizations that work with children and young people with disabilities received an operating subsidy for a total of €1.308.150 euros. It concerns an annual subsidy for the policy period 2020-2023. Also, The Flemish Minister of Youth decided to allocate € 19.965 in project subsidies to 5 voluntary initiatives with children and young people with a disability.
- For the period 2021-2026 7 youth work organisations who work with socially vulnerable youth receive an annual subsidy for a total of € 1.473.780
- For the period 2021-2026 5 inter-municipal partnerships for youth work were granted. Together, the five partnerships receive an annual funding of € 141.037.
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
In 2016, the working group ‘Diversity Policy’ within the Youth Work Commission worked on a vision note on diversity in youth work (visienota Diversiteit in het Jeugdwerk). Partly based on this vision, a roundtable discussion with the youth work sector was organized. 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: "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”. 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 society.
These initiatives lead also to the Masterplan diversity in / and youth work (Masterplan diversiteit in/en het jeugdwerk) in 2018. The Master Plan must set things in motion, and this in a sustainable way. Therefore it transcends the previous legislature and contains a long list of ambitious actions on diversity, both towards children and young people and more specifically in youth work itself. The actions from the various target group-oriented policy plans are also included. Although the master plan is a joint commitment of the youth sector and the Flemish government, local authorities and any other actors from civil society, other sectors or other policy levels are also invited to commit and formulate actions. The Master Plan is updated annually on the occasion of Diversity Day. Actions in the Master Plan can be linked to four pillars:
- Achieving a broader youth work offering and ensuring more equal opportunities for all children and young people
- Achieving more social integration
- Detecting research needs, collecting and disclosing existing figures, weighing on the research agenda regarding diversity and monitoring.
- Cross-sectoral and international networking and collaboration
More information can also be found on https://www.diversjeugdwerkvlaanderen.be/ .
Finally also the funding of supra-local youth work organizations for children and young people with disabilities, the voluntary initiatives geared towards children and young people with disabilities, the youth work organizations that work with socially vulnerable youth and the projects funded based on the calls 'Connecting vulnerable children and young people with the neighborhood and society’ and ‘Connection ambassadors for youth work' (see above) have the goal to increase the diversity of participants.