Day care, schooling and family-related Issues
Towards a healthy work-life balance
As you may well know from your own bitter experience, domestic life can easily suffer when both halves of a couple or both parents in a family work.
Belgium genuinely wants you to be happy and fulfilled here, and believes that the key to such happiness entails striking a healthy balance between work, leisure and family life.
Consequently, it has adopted a set of family policy instruments designed to ensure such a balance. These include:
- Various types of leave: maternity, paternity and parental leave.
- Child benefit: like anyone in Belgium, foreign researchers with children are entitled to a monthly allowance to give them a helping hand.
Having children brings all sorts of changes and lots of responsibilities. Education is one of these.
Taking care of a child begins early, during the pregnancy. Many administrative steps can already be undertaken, with some financial support, with birth allowances and child benefit (paid for most children living legally in Belgium).
Family- and child-related policies are mostly in the hands of the Communities in Belgium, namely the Flemish Community and the French-Speaking Community (WBF).
Belgium has a very extensive social security system. Foreigners also are also entitled to certain benefits and social services.
If you are planning to live, work or study in Belgium, your social security entitlements (such as child benefit, pension, reimbursement of medical costs and sickness benefit) depend on bilateral agreements signed between Belgium and your home country as well as on European legislation. Refer to Coming2belgium, a special online tool developed by the social security institutions, to find out what you are entitled to under the Belgian social security system.
Birth grant and child benefit
Women who give birth are entitled to a birth grant. If you adopt a child, you are entitled to an adoption grant. Almost all children living in Belgium are entitled to child benefit, until 31st August of the year during which they turn 18. Under certain conditions children aged over 18 can continue to receive child benefit.
For precise questions regarding birth or adoption grants, researchers should contact their employer's human resource department.
One way of acquiring Belgian nationality is through the naturalisation procedure.
Naturalisation is a concessionary measure granted by the House of Representatives. In contrast to the declaration procedure or the normal choice of nationality, in this case foreigners have no right to Belgian nationality, but the House may nevertheless grant them Belgian nationality as a concession. See http://www.belgium.be/en/family/naturalisation_procedure
A foreigner who marries a Belgian does not automatically receive Belgian nationality. To acquire Belgian nationality, you must be living with your Belgian spouse at the time of the application. Depending on your residence rights in the country, you must also have been living together for a certain amount of time. See http://www.belgium.be/en/family/becoming_a_belgian_citizen_by_marriage
Schooling and higher education
In September 2004, higher education in Belgium was greatly changed by the introduction of the "Bologna process". This was a European reform aiming to harmonise qualifications between different member states and to encourage the mobility of students across the European Union. See http://www.belgium.be/en/education/european_harmonisation
How well will your child(ren) be cared for in Flanders?
Here are the main advantages for residents of Flanders or Belgium:
- Flanders meets the European standard of 33 places in childcare centres for every 100 infants aged 0-3. Only Sweden and Denmark can match that.
- The quality of Belgian childcare is superior to that available in other European countries.
- Here, children can start school at the age of two-and-a-half.
- Some universities run childcare facilities for children. So don't forget to take a look at the facilities of your future university.
Suggestion: All these advantages make childcare centres very popular. And since childcare centres often have waiting lists, we would advise you to register your child(ren) as early as possible. The same applies to university childcare facilities.
- help and advice about child care?
- registration of high quality child care;
- optimal support for parents-to-be and parents with young children;
- the criteria that adoption agencies have to meet.
- a clear explanation on how our education systems are organised in Flanders and how they work?
Take a look at EURYDIC. This network supports and facilitates European cooperation in the field of lifelong learning by providing information on education systems and policies in 38 countries and by producing studies on issues common to European education systems.
or at the website of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training.
- an overview of statistical information on Flemish education?
The information is available in a brochure for the 2014-2015 school/academic year. (download it here)
- higher education opportunities in Flanders?
You can get an overview of study programmes, universities and university colleges at STUDY IN FLANDERS.
- international schools?
Flanders is very internationally minded and a Flemish education undoubtedly reflects this.
Nonetheless, circumstances may prompt you to opt for a fully-blown international education for your child instead. If so, rest assured that Flanders can deliver!
As international schools are privately run and receive no funding from the Flemish government, they are considerably more expensive than local Flemish schools (ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 euros per child per annum).
- European Schools?
A list of locations in Belgium is available at the 'Office of the Secretary-General of the European Schools'.
Note that it will be very difficult to obtain places for your children at one of the European schools if you are not working for the European institutions.
The Birth and Childhood Office (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance), referred to as ONE, is a public institution that develops birth and childhood policies in the French-Speaking Community (WFB).
Office de la Naissance et de l'Enfance (O.N.E) (French)
Chaussee de Charleroi, 95
Phone: 02 542 1211
Fax: 02 542 1261