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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Home-based provision

Belgium - French Community

4.Early childhood education and care

4.6Home-based provision

Last update: 27 November 2023

Objectives and accessibility

Home-based care is delivered by childminders who either work independently (accueillantes d’enfants autonomes) or are affiliated with specific childminding organisations (accueillantes d’enfants conventionnées). Home-based provision is the responsibility of the Birth and Childhood Office (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance (ONE)) of the French Community, which is under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, Childhood and Continuing Education.

Home-based care generally takes place in the childminder’s home, or in a specially equipped space in the home or a space made available by the municipality or a local association. The binding framework established by the Childcare Quality Code applies to home-based care.

Family-based care is preferred by some families, as the child is cared for ‘just like at home’. This type of care can be perceived as more personalised and is sought at the parents’ discretion.

Home-based provision is part of ONE’s care mission, applying to children who receive home-based care from the end of their mother’s maternity leave until they start school. Home-based provision is authorised, approved and/or subsidised by ONE, based on the regulations in force. In total, on 31 December 2019, the availability of home-based provision in the French community consisted of 12 384 places (26.36 % of all ECEC places), of which 9 922 places were subsidised by ONE and 2 462 places were not. Home-based provision accounts for approximately one quarter of childcare places for children under the age of 2.5 years.

Whether they are subsidised, salaried or in a co-hosting arrangement, childminders are professionals who look after one to four full-time-equivalent children, with a maximum of five children present at the same time, if they are working alone, and up to eight full-time-equivalent children, with a maximum of 10 children present at the same time, if they are working in a pair.

In subsidised childcare settings, the financial contribution of families is calculated according to the income of each family. Non-subsidised childcare settings set their own prices.

Childcare staff continue to be required to prove that they have completed an initial training course recognised by the decree of the government of the French Community that established the authorisation and subsidy system for crèches, childcare settings and independent childcare providers (2nd May 2019). Taking care of young children requires professional skills and aptitudes that are maintained by following the continuous training modules offered in the ONE training catalogues.

Requirements for childminders and child ratios

In home-based care, the child is cared for in the home of a childminder as part of a small group of children (maximum of four full-time-equivalent children per childminder, with a maximum of five children simultaneously). Childminders can work in pairs (co-care), in which case a maximum of eight full-time-equivalent children can be grouped together.

Initial training of a childminder

According to the 2019 legislation, a childminder must have a certificate of upper secondary education (ISCED level 3) and any of the following certificates in the field of education, which require a number of ECEC skills :

  • certificate of qualification in childcare (puériculture) (3 years; 36 periods/week – minimum of 1 000 periods of internship over the 3 years of training – ISCED level 4) ;
  • certificate of qualification in education (agent d’éducation) (a full-time course over 2 years – minimum of 28 periods/week – ISCED level 3) ;
  • certificate of qualification as an educator (social advancement education – 3 years with a minimum of 600 periods of internship) ;
  • certificate of qualification as a childcare assistant (14 months – 1 264 periods of which 660 periods are coursework and 604 periods are internship) ;
  • certificate of business management course: childminder (390 periods with a minimum of 274 periods of internship).

As the previous legislation (from 2003 and 2004) coexists with the 2019 legislation, a home-based childminder can also have undertaken a government-recognised training course or accelerated training lasting a minimum of 100 hours.

Independent childminders are also required to meet certain administrative conditions, such as being registered with the Banque-Carrefour des Entreprises (Crossroads Bank for Enterprises) as an independent worker; drawing up a financial plan, a childcare plan and a childcare contract; having a clean criminal record free of any convictions related to minors; providing a medical certificate stating that the childminder is physically and psychologically fit to be in contact with children and that he or she will not represent a danger to them; and providing proof of immunity against rubella for any female member of the household aged 15–50 years.

There are also rules to be respected regarding the infrastructure of the childcare setting, fire standards, insurance, management and mitigation of risks, and monitoring of the preparatory process. Childminders must be aged 18–67 years.

Continuous Professional Development

Home-based childminders who are bound to an organising authority by agreement or as employees and who are responsible for caring for children undergo continuous professional development during their career.

The organising authority establishes, in consultation with the staff of the childcare setting, a continuous professional development plan in relation to the childcare plan for its entire duration. This development plan is implemented through the participation of the staff in training modules included in a continuous professional development programme determined every 5 years by the government, on the basis of a proposal from ONE.

Independent childminders and staff in other care settings are obliged to participate in 2 training days per year, on average.