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Policies related to the support of vulnerable persons (poverty issues, access to housing, to decent income, etc.) lie at the Federal, Regional and local level mainly through the action of Public Centres for Social Action.
The French-speaking Community through the Minister of Education is responsible for education policies.
On Eurypedia, there is a description of the structures of the educational system in the French-speaking Community.
The Minister of Youth Welfare at the French-speaking Community level is responsible for Youth Welfare.
The Youth Welfare General Administration develops mechanisms of cross-sectorial cooperation with different authorities at different level of power in order to help vulnerable young people in various field of action (health, disability service, social action centres, etc.).
Youth employment is part of the general employment policy. The Regions and the Federal Entity are both competent for employment policy. (See section 3.2 Administration and Governance)
They have different responsibilities regarding this field:
- The Federal Government is in charge of labour laws, social security and unemployment compensation ;
- The Regions are responsible for measures aimed at supporting employment of target groups, training, lifelong learning and local agencies for employment.
Health and well-being
Since the 6th reform of the State, Regions are responsible for health and well-being policies.
The Federal level is mainly in charge of Immigration policies. However, the Minister of Youth Welfare within the French-speaking Community is also competent to implement some policies regarding the support of unaccompanied foreign minors.
“Public Centres for Social Action” are important actors lying at the federal (RIS), regional and local (field of action) level (depending on the specificities of the support). Each municipality must have a CPAS. Their mission is to ensure the social support in order “to enable everyone to live a life with human dignity” as pointed out in the Law of 8 July 1976 related to Public Centres of Social Action.
This social support might be financial, medical, psychological, etc.
The General Administration of Education (Administration Générale de l'enseignement) is responsible for the implementation of educational policies. It is composed of 8 sub-administrations. Each one are in charge of a specific thematic.
Beside the administration, there are actors directly in contact with young people.
Apart from the teaching staff (headmaster teachers, educators, etc.), other public bodies are implemented to offer support to pupils:
Those services are free public services belonging to a network organised and funded by the General Administration of Education. A centre is composed of psychologists, social and medical assistants working together to support young people at school. It’s a place where young people and their parents can talk about matters related to education, family and social life, health, etc.
Their mission is to realise medical check-up, to prevent the spreading of transmitted diseases and to ensure a healthy environment at school according to the decree of 20 December 2001 related to health promotion at school (relatif à la promotion de la santé à l'école).
- Mediation services at school (service de mediation scolaire)
According to the decree of 21 November 2013, the mission of mediation services is to take in charge relational issues between pupils, between pupils and their parents, teaching staff and pupils, etc. There are 2 services in charge at the French-speaking Community level. One for the region of Brussels and one for the Walloon Region. In the Region of Brussels, mediators are part of the school. In the Walloon Region, mediators are external to the school according to the circular n°1884 of 24 May 2007.
According to the decree of 21 November 2013, this service is composed of external experts specialised in crisis management. Their missions are to take action when one of these situation happens within school (absenteeism in primary school ; school dropout ; to prevent or to solve a crisis situation at school level ; to foster dialogue after a crisis situation at school level). This service is composed of 26 actors and 1 coordinator, appointed by the Government and placed under the authority of the General Direction of Compulsory Education (Direction Générale de l’Enseignement obligatoire).
- School attendance services (Service d’accrochage scolaire)
According to the decree of 21 November 2013, school attendance services provide social, educational and pedagogical support to pupils who tend to drop out school. These services are funded by the General Administration of Education and the General Administration of Youth Welfare. The work of the “School attendance services” is at the intersection of youth welfare, youth work and education sector.
See section 3.2 Administration and Governance
The Minister of Youth Welfare is the responsible authority for Youth Welfare policies.
The General Administration of Youth Welfare is in charge of the implementation of the Decree of 18 January 2018 related to the prevention, youth welfare and youth protection. According to the latter decree, Youth Welfare is understood as child protection and addresses young people under 18 years old. The Decree organises the individual specialised care offered to vulnerable young people. This Decree gives a priority to prevention and the aid given in the living environment of the child. This Decree offers a legal framework in which the different actors presented below take action.
The Youth Welfare sector is composed of 2 branches:
- Public services:
The Administration, through the action of the Counsellor or the Director of Youth Welfare, provides a personalised support to young people in need and their families.
The Counsellor of Youth Welfare manages the Youth Welfare Service (Service de l’Aide à la Jeunesse – SAJ). The SAJ is a public authority which aims to protect young people in need and in social difficulties.
The aim of the SAJ is to find a solution to the problem of the youngster and its family without the intervention of justice. The Counsellor takes the final decision about the action to undertake in order to help the youngster. The support offered by the Counsellor is not compelling.
The Director of Youth Welfare manages the Service of Youth Protection (Service de Protection de la Jeunesse – SPJ). The SPJ takes action in two scenarios:
- when no solution of voluntary support measure has been found between the SAJ and the youngster in need ;
- when the youngster has committed an offense and therefore a measure has been taken by the Youth Court ;
In the two scenarios, the SPJ demands a compelling support measure.
- Private services:
The SPJ and the SAJ guide young people in need towards specific private services which are recognised, funded and supervised by the General Administration of Youth Welfare.
Those private services organise and implement the specific support as decided by the SAJ or the SPJ. In accordance with the objectives of the Decree of 2018, those private services must:
- work on the specific and written request of the Youth Counsellor or the Youth Director ;
- give priority to prevention ;
- favour a support implemented in the social environment of the youngster ;
- adapt the service according to the young beneficiary ;
- offer a local assistance.
The following actors have also an important role to play in the sector of Youth Welfare:
- Service d’Aide en Milieu Ouvert (AMO)
These structures offer support to minors in need in their social environment. The AMO’s objectives are to offer preventive support in the living environment of the youngster. One of the main feature of this youth welfare service is that young people come in a voluntary way. They organise their action around 2 main axes: individual support (educative and social aid) and collective work (activities in the neighbourhood, etc.). They also organise homework school, creative workshop, etc.
- Youth Court (Tribunal de la Jeunesse)
The Youth Court is responsible for many matters regarding youth delinquency. It also takes action when no solution of voluntary support has been found to help a youngster in need or in social difficulties.
- General Delegate for the Rights of Child (Délégué Général aux droits de l’enfant)
Its main mission is to ensure the protection of the rights and interests of every child and young people. He is an ombudsman and he has the moral authority to stop any social exclusion or marginalisation process he notices. He is delegated directly by the Government of the French-speaking Community.
- Observatory of Childhood, Youth and Youth Welfare (Observatoire de l’Enfance, de la Jeunesse et de l’Aide à la Jeunesse)
See section 1.6 Evidence base policy
See section 1.4 Youth Policy Decision-Making
Health and well-being
- The Agency for a Quality Life (Agence pour une Vie de Qualité) is the Walloon public body competent for health and well-being, family and disability policies.
- Family Planning Centres (planning familial) are services aiming at receive, inform and support persons, couples and families on the thematic of sexual and affective life. They are funded by the Regions (Brussels or Wallonia).
- Birth and Childhood Office (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance) This is a public body placed under the supervision of the government of the French-speaking Community. This body is the reference in the French-speaking Community regarding childhood policies, medical and social support of the mother and her child, host centre for children out of their social environment and support to parenthood. The Office must ensure the authorisation, the recognition, the funding, the support and the evaluation of childcare facilities for children and youngsters (homework schools, holidays centres, specialised childcare facilities,…). The other missions of the Office are the support of children in relation with their social environment, the promotion of health, the implementation of actions to support parenthood.
- Fedasil is the Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers. This Agency has a specific service in charge of unaccompanied foreign minors.
- A service within the General Administration for Youth Welfare has been created in order to support Fedasil in the elaboration of its policy related to the reception of unaccompanied foreign minors. This service creation is due to a convention signed between the Federal authorities and the French-speaking Government.
The service within the Youth Welfare Administration is in charge of:
- guiding unaccompanied foreign minors towards housing services;
- the financial and the administrative management;
- offering a support related to the rights of foreigners.
Many associations also act directly to support unaccompanied foreign minors.
The sector of education collaborates with the sector of Youth Welfare through the decree of 21 November 2013 organising policy cooperation between the compulsory education and the youth sector to enhance well-being at school, school reintegration, prevention of violence and vocational guidance (see section 4.3 Strategy for the Social Inclusion of Young People and 6.3 Preventing early leaving from eductaion and training).
See also section 6.6 Social inclusion through education and training.