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The health and well-being of young people is not exclusive a youth policy theme. The Flemish government works via both horizontal and vertical consultation and planning.
The most relevant policy domains are:
At regional (Flemish) level:
- Youth policy
- Health and well-being policy
- Sports policy
- Educational policy
Main public bodies at a community-level (Flemish Community)
The Flemish Government is responsible for funding the policy domain and non-profit organisations in this field.
Flemish Minister in charge of Welfare, Public Health and Family
The Government of Flanders consists of 9 ministers, who are in office for a 5-year term. Minister Wouter Beke (Christian Democratic Party) is since 2 October 2019 the new Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health and Family (from 2019 until 2024).
Flemish Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Family
The Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Family consists of the Department Welfare, Public Health and Family, the Agency Care and Health, the Agency for Youth Welfare, the Agency Child and Family and the Flemish Agency for Disabled Children. Its aim is to help build the Flemish Government’s policy, which organises responsive care in an effective manner, together with the agencies and partners in the field.
The Ministry ensures the administrative follow-up of the Policy Plan on Welfare, Public Health and Family. It is responsible for the preparation, implementation and evaluation of the policy domain.
Within the Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Family, the Flemish Agency for Youth Welfare provides guidance to young people.
The Youth Welfare Agency helps youth who are in difficult living conditions. Together with all the partners in the special youth care sector, the Youth Welfare Agency provides assistance to children and young people in problematic living conditions in order to maximize their chances of personal development. The Youth Welfare Agency coordinates prevention policy and provides assistance to minors through committees for special youth care, social services, and legal assistance and arbitration committees.
The key tasks of the Youth Welfare Agency are:
- prevention and assistance
- recognition and funding of youth assistance facilities
- an educational, pedagogical and therapeutic provision
- counsellors in special youth care
- community institutions
Flemish Minister in charge of Sport
Minister Ben Weyts (New Flemish Alliance Party (N-VA))) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Education, Sports, Animal welfare and Flemish periphery (from 2019 until 2024). He is responsible for the Policy Plan on Sport.
Flemish Agency Sport Flanders
The Flemish Agency Sport Flanders (Sport Vlaanderen) supports the Flemish Government with the preparation and evaluation of grassroots sports and top sports policy in Flanders. The agency helps also with the implementation of the sports policy: financial support for boards, sports federations and sport clubs and monitoring and evaluation.
The main tasks are:
- the subsidising and coaching sports federations, local authorities and sport actors
- the development and recognition of sport education and valorising certificates and diplomas
- advising, coaching and supporting the extension of sports infrastructure
- the administration of 13 sportcentra
- sport promotion at Flemish level
- the implementation of top sport policy
- promotion of healthy and ethical sport
- the implementation of an anti-doping policy
- the focus on policy development for the sport sector
- the monitoring of international sports policy
- cooperation between the sport sector and other policy domains
Flemish Minister in charge of Education and Training
Minister Ben Weyts (New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)) is is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Education and Training (from 2019-2024).
Flemish Ministry of Education and Training
The Department of Education and Training together with the Minister in charge of Education and Training is responsible for the advice, evaluation and follow-up on education policy in Flanders.
The Flemish policy on education of health and well-being is defined in Flemish policy documents, such as the cross-curricular attainment targets in education (Vakoverschrijdende eindtermen).
Flemish Minister in charge of Youth
Minister Benjamin Dalle (Christen Democratic Party) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Brussels Affairs, Youth and Media (from 2019 until 2024). He is the coordinating minister of the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan.
Culture is a policy domain of Minister-president Jan Jambon (New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) (From 2019 until 2024).
Flemish Ministry of Culture, Youth and Media
The ‘Division Knowledge and Policy’ – embedded in the Department of Culture, Youth and Media – ensures the administrative follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights and is responsible for the coordination of a horizontal Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan (leisure, education, work, equality, etc.).
A main chapter in the horizontal Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan is ‘Well-being’, which focuses on three themes as explained under 7.1, main concepts. The plan pursues four large societal objectives: equal opportunities, broad development, space and greater involvement in society for all children and young people. Focus is placed, for instance, on room to play, the quality of education or the fight against child poverty and youth unemployment. The process for drawing up the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan 2015-2019 completed several stages and adopted a participatory approach. Working groups composed of young people, youth workers, children’s rights actors, civil society, civil servants and researchers worked together intensively for several months around nine selected themes to arrive at strategic and operational objectives on the basis of priority policy challenges. These themes were poverty, ecology, being young, mobility, education, participation, space, well-being and housing. We also added the themes ‘employment’ and ‘youth culture’.
The division ‘Subsidizing and maintaining’ of the department subsidizes more than a hundred youth organizations, contributing to children’s well-being in Flanders. They also subsidize cultural- (educative), social-cultural and artistic organizations.
Main non-public actors
Non-profit organisations working on health and well-being
The Flemish Government funds non-profit organisations in this field. Examples are (including a substantial focus and work with children, youth and young people):
Flemish Institute for Healthy Living
The Flemish Institute for Healthy Living ('Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven') is a centre of expertise. Since 1991, this institute is recognised and funded by the Flemish Government. The Flemish Institute for Healthy Living helps the Flemish Government to achieve the Flemish Health Objectives.
The Youth Advice Centres (Jongerenadviescentrum-JAC) are part of the Flemish Centres of General Welfare (CAWs). The 11 regional CAWs have a total of 51 JAC’s.
JAC’s are financed through the CAW centres by the Ministry of Wellfare. Most of them receive some additional money from local and provincial government and private sponsoring.
In Flanders, YAC’s offer advice, support and guidance to young people between the ages of 12 and 25. All sorts of question are treated anonymously: housing advice, (student) work, sexual health, children’s rights, emotional well-being, substance abuse, etc.
VAD (Vlaams expertisecentrum Alcohol en Drugs, Flemish expertise centre on alcohol and drugs) is an non-profit organisation and expertise centre for alcohol, drugs, psychoactive substances, gambling and gaming. VAD enables discussion within society about alcohol and drug issues, expand (inter)sector networks with potential partners and support a high quality and scientifically based approach to deal with alcohol and drugs issues.
CPZ (Centrum ter Preventie van Zelfdoding, Centre on suicide prevention) is a non-profit organisation on the prevention of suicide. CPZ enables discussion within society about suicide and helps people to get through a suicidal crisis.
The Centre for the Prevention of Suicide (CPZ - Centrum ter Preventie van Zelfdoding, Centre on suicide prevention) is a non-profit organisation whose basic objective is to prevent suicide. They have been doing this since 1979. The CPZ operates on the basis of three services, which are interlinked and complement each other: The Suicide Line 1813, the Training Service and the Study Service.
Since 2013, the suicide portal www.zelfmoord1813.be has been the central gateway for anyone looking for information or help. All services and products of the CPZ are accessible via zelfmoord1813.be.
The CPZ has been recognised by the Flemish government as an organisation with a field of suicide prevention through low-threshold telecare. In addition, the CPZ, together with the Unit for Suicide Research of Ghent University, forms the Flemish Centre of Expertise on Suicide Prevention, which was recognised as a partner organisation for the prevention of suicide.
In addition to Flemish subsidies, the CPZ also receives support from Actiris. The Brussels-Capital Region thus makes it possible to employ two full-time staff members.
Sensoa promotes sexual health as a centre of expertise in Flanders and does so with an international perspective.
Sensoa works on the basis of the World Health Organisation's definition of 'sexual health'. Sexual health is more than just the absence of disease and preventing the risks of unplanned pregnancy, sexual abuse, STDs or HIV. Attention should also be paid to the pleasurable and positive aspects of sexuality. This then translates itself into a constructive, respectful approach towards sexuality and sexual relationships.
For Sensoa, sexual health is inextricably linked with promoting and safeguardingsexual rights. They believe that sexual rights should be respected, safeguarded and upheld so that everyone is able to experience his or her sexuality free from coercion, discrimination and violence.
General distribution of responsibilities
Different policy domains at the regional level are responsible for the policymaking with regard to health and well-being.
A policy domain consists of a department and one or more agencies.
The department is concerned with policy preparation and policy support. It is operating under the authority and the responsibility of the minister.
An agency is primarily responsible for policy implementing tasks and has more autonomy. Therefore, we often refer to ‘independent’ agencies.
This structure was developed in 2006 with the reorganisation ‘Better Administrative Policy’ (‘Beter Bestuur Beleid’ (BBB)). However, in practice departments and agencies work closely together for both policy preparation and implementation. The department involves the agencies for the policy preparation and –evaluation and discusses policy intentions with them. On the basis of their experience with policy execution, agencies provide input to policymakers.
As described in the Municipality Decree of 15 July 2005 (a new decree on local government is in preparation), the local authorities have to contribute to the lives of their citizens on a local level. In Flanders, the responsibilities of the municipalities are not predefined – it is not that a list of concrete tasks and responsibilities is assigned to them - but there is the principle that municipalities are concerned with the communal interest and have to undertake all initiatives needed to protect this interest. The municipalities also have to take up those responsibilities and execute those tasks that are assigned to them by laws or decrees. The Municipality Act also stipulates that local authorities have to involve inhabitants as much as possible in the policymaking process.
In Flanders, the health and well-being of young people are the 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 transversal. 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