The Flemish Welfare Association asks for urgent consultation with the Flemish government about the impact of the extension of the autumn holiday on out-of-school childcare, the youth care sector and the disabled sector. “We certainly want to take our responsibility here,” says director Hendrik Delaruelle. “But this should have been decided and planned much earlier, and not just with the education sector.” The Gezinsbond, for its part, asks for understanding and flexibility for families who are in trouble as a result.
Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA) decided on Sunday evening to extend the autumn holidays in education until 11 November. The Flemish Welfare Association is urging urgent consultation to see what impact that extended autumn holiday will have on out-of-school childcare, the youth care sector and the sector of people with a disability. The organization asks for clarity about three challenges: safety, staff deployment and financial impact.
In terms of safety, for example, the organization is concerned about the possible mixing of bubbles if the occupancy in the out-of-school care is much lower on 9 and 10 November. In terms of staff, reception initiatives may have to call on additional staff. “That in itself is not impossible, but the time to get this organized is very short”, it sounds.
According to the Flemish Welfare Association, this creates an extra burden for youth care and facilities for people with a disability. Children who would be in school on November 9 and 10 now remain full-time in the facility. “This means that extra staff will have to be deployed at very short notice, in a sector in which employees have already crossed their borders for months to assist all young people, even in lockdown periods, with distance education and homework assistance.”
According to the Welfare Association, there are many questions from the sector about the financial impact. The compensation scheme for childcare expired at the end of September. At the moment there is only compensation if initiatives have to close completely or partially. “But what if daycare has to remain open on 9 and 10 November to a much lower occupancy? Will they receive compensation for this? These are questions that urgently need an answer, ”says the Welfare Association.
The Family Union understands the decision of Minister Ben Weyts to extend the autumn holidays, but asks for understanding and flexibility for families who are in trouble as a result. For many families it is not easy to provide care for the children during the extra vacation days. “Parents have taken a flexible attitude throughout the corona crisis and will also be able to cope with this with mutual solidarity and understanding from their employer, for example when they work from home with children at home. But there are also families for whom this is not easy, because they themselves work in the care or food sector or no longer have the necessary leave. It is also better not to call in the grandparents for child-minding ”, says Elke Valgaeren of the Gezinsbond.
That is why the Gezinsbond asks that education minister Ben Weyts quickly provides clarity about the opening of out-of-school (emergency) care. “We ask for out-of-school childcare to be available to parents who really need it, if justified and feasible, or for emergency care to be provided if regular childcare fails. We do ask parents to take care of the children themselves when that is possible and we ask employers to understand the sometimes difficult combination of working from home and children. If it were to be necessary to close the schools for longer, structural measures such as corona parental leave would have to be put on the table again ”, concludes Elke Valgaeren.
In government circles it can be heard that the matter is being looked at a lot.
Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!
Log in or create an account and don’t miss out on the stars.