Innovative projects for integration of childcare and education

Recommendation on the financing of innovative projects that focus on a continuous line between childcare and pre-school education and care

For historical reasons, Flanders has a split between the system of care for babies and toddlers and out-of-school childcare on the one hand, and pre-school education on the other. Childcare initiatives fall under Welfare, outside the policy area of Education.

The Flemish government is now launching a call for projects for twelve innovative initiatives (‘pioneers’) who must develop a practical model for integrated operations in the field of care and education for children aged zero to six years.

Opportunities but need for clearer contours

The Vlor welcomes the call for projects. Test projects are a good way of gaining experience and, after a thorough evaluation, arriving at policy recommendations. However, a sharper outline is needed for these projects. The education partners still have many questions about the framework within which the projects should operate.

Stronger role for education

Because the proposal is too one-sidedly elaborated from the policy domain of welfare, the educational regulations have not been sufficiently taken into account. Also, the education actors want to have a clear role in the projects and be involved. This should also be the case when the projects are evaluated.    

Time needed

The Vlor asks for additional time to clarify the exact objectives of the projects and what is legally needed for the projects to succeed. The timing for the projects to start on 1 September 2021 is very tight. For the Vlor, it is important that completely new initiatives also get a real chance to participate.

Do not embed without thorough evaluation

If the Flemish Government wants to take the step towards a regular policy that supports the integration of care and education for children between the ages of 0 and 6, it is necessary to first wait for the evaluation of the projects. This evaluation must be done thoroughly together with all partners. The Vlor also wants to be asked for advice in time.

Parent participation

Currently, the environmental analysis that each project has to carry out does not include parental participation. However, parents are the users of education and care and should therefore be involved in the projects and in shaping parental policy.