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Under the Belgian Constitution, everyone has the right to live a life with human dignity. The Belgian Constitution underwrites the social, economic and cultural rights of everyone which includes the right to decent housing. This right remains “declarative”. There is no obligation of result.
The Walloon Accomodation Society (Société wallonne du logement) and the Brussels Region Accomodation Society (Société du logement de la Région Bruxelloise) have for main objective to provide accomodation to low income persons on their territory.
Minors who are forced to leave their home when under the age of 18 are likely to receive assistance from the Youth Welfare Service (voluntary aid) or the Youth Court (compulsory aid). These public services will guide the minor to the right aid service according to the nature of the problem.
Welfare services are ruled by the
- the decree of 18 January related to youth welfare
- the Civil Code
- the UN Convention on the Rights of Child.
These legal texts encourage the upholding and/or the recovery of family ties. The housing of children outside the family environment must remain an exception and a temporary situation. Each social worker must keep that spirit in mind and work in order to reduce the placement time. The Youth Welfare Decree limits the time of any aid measure to 1 year. After 1 year, the situation is revaluated and the aid measures can be renewed. In any cases, contacts with the family are maintained to concretize the belonging of the kid to its birth family.
Aid services (placement institutions) are recognised and funded by the Youth Welfare Administration. Each aid service has its own specificities (working with abused children, emergency centres, family placement, etc).
Aid services recognised by the Decree are also responsible for supporting young people to gain autonomy when they leave their placement institution. This aid must be requested by one of these 3 actors:
- the youth welfare counsellor
- the youth welfare director
- the youth court.
The aid to support minor’s autonomy revolves around 2 axes:
- offering a support to young people who leave their placement institution. This aid relates to the budget management, housing, energy saving.
- offering a complementary financial support for security deposit and for furniture’s.
Social services for every young people
Each family receives family allowances according to the Law of 4 april 2014 revising the Law of 19 December 1939 related to family allowances.
Family allowances increase with the number of dependent children. Until the age of 18, family allowances are granted without conditions. From 18 to 25, the family allowance is granted
- during the time of education of the youngster or
- once the latter has registered as job seeker.
Supplement can be granted in various cases such as single-parent families, orphans or disabled persons in charge of children, long-term unemployed persons or persons with a pension
Familly allowances have been reformed with the 6th state reform in 2016 (see section 4.8).
Social services for young people with financial difficulties
According to the Belgian Constitution (Art 78), everyone deserves social integration. This right can be reached through social integration income or through employment according to the Law of 26 May 2002 related to the right of social integration updated on 1st June 2017 (relative à l'intégration sociale). The mission of Public Centres for Social Action (CPAS), local public services, is to ensure this right.
Public Centres for Social Action (CPAS), local public services, are charged to support low income persons or households who meet the eligibility criteria. These criteria are defined in the Federal Law of 8 July 1976 related to Public Centres for Social Action (Loi organique des centres publics d'action sociale).
Belgian minors with financial difficulties receive social support from their local Public Centre for Social Action. Social support can be medical, psychologic, material, etc.
Belgian adults (18 or more) or minors assimilated as majors by law (for instance, young parents) with financial difficulties receive social support and are also eligible for the Integration Social Income.
To receive the Social Integration Income, young people aged between 18 and 25 must sign an “integration contract”. This contract consists of an individual project for social integration. This can be, for instance, a professional project (find a job or a training). The youngster in need is supported by a referent social worker in the elaboration of the project.
Since the 1st September 2016, every new beneficiary (young adult or not) of the Social Integration Income must sign this integration contract to be eligible for the Integration Social Income.
Birth and Childhood Office 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 (free medical consultations for kids from 0 to 6), host centres for children out of their social environment and support to parenthood. The decree of 17 July 2002 reforming the Birth and Childhood Office is the legal framework to refer to.
Birth and Childhood Office is in charge of the authorisation, the recognition, the funding, the support and the evaluation of childcare facilities for kids (homework Schools, holiday's Centres, specialised childcare facilities, etc.). Birth and Childhood Office must also ensure the support of children in relation with their social environment, the promotion of health, the implementation of actions to support parenthood.
In Belgium, individual health insurance is compulsory for everybody. People must affiliate to the health insurance of their choice.
The main mission of compulsory health insurance is to ensure the partial refund of medical and health fees and offer a complementary financial support in case of work incapacity. The related legal framework is the Law related to the compulsory health care insurance and compensation coordinated on 14 July 1994 (Loi relative à l’assurance obligatoire soins de santé et indemnités coordonnée le 14 juillet 1994).
Depending on the health insurance young people are affiliated to, they receive advantages (cheaper trips, financial intervention for dental treatment or contraception, financial intervention for participation to sports activities, etc.).
Young people aged from 0 to 25 still in education are entitled to their parent’s health insurance. After 25 or at the moment they start to work, they must affiliate to their own health insurance.
Women under 21 years old are eligible for a complementary financial intervention for the reimbursement of contraception according to the royal order of 16 September 2013 (arrêté royal). This intervention is complementary to the regular intervention which affects all women with the compulsory health care insurance. The aim of this measure is to improve the access of contraception and avoid the risk of unwanted pregnancy among young people according to the website of INAMI ( Institut National maladie invalidité).
See Social Services: young people with financial difficulties.
Social Services - Young people with financial difficulties
The Federal Public Service Social Integration (Service public fédéral de programmation Intégration sociale) is charged to defend the right for social integration. One of its action is to make statistical studies, surveys, analysis, satisfaction enquiries to evaluate and monitor policies and actions in the field of social integration. Local Centres for Public Integration also develop statistical studies, annual reports on various thematic linked to their field of action.
The INAMI (Institut National maladie invalidité) also makes annual report on its actions, statistics on various thematic linked to health care policies available on its website. The Birth and Childhood Office publishes annual report on its actions available on its website.