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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in early childhood education and care

Belgium - French Community

14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.1National reforms in early childhood education and care

Last update: 20 September 2023
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Support for families : lower fees in childcare settings : 20/07/2023

On 20 July 2023, the Government of the French Community approved, at second reading, the proposed new price scale for childcare settings. In practical terms, subsidised childcare settings bills will fall for parents with average and low incomes, i.e. the majority of parents whose children are of childcare settings age.  Since January 2023, the bills had already been reduced for single-parent families and were free for people with BIM status (Beneficiaries of the Increased Intervention).  The French Community Government is therefore continuing its work to support parents and give as many children as possible access to childcare settings.   At the same time, work to create new places and improve working conditions for childminders is continuing.


2nd reading for the preliminary draft decree on the support, development of professional skills and assessment of teaching staff : 28/04/2023

On 28 April, the Government approved, at 2nd reading, the preliminary draft decree on the support, development of professional skills and assessment of teaching staff. The Government confirmed that the text would comprise two distinct mechanisms, in line with the guidelines set out by education stakeholders in 2017 as part of the adoption of the Opinion number 3 of the Pact for Excellence in Teaching :

  • the professional skills support and development mechanism, which is aimed at the positive reinforcement of staff members ;
  • the appraisal mechanism, which can only be activated in the event of clear and repeated failure on the part of a member of staff, after all the stages of the support mechanism have been implemented.

However, a number of other changes have again been made to the text with the same objective as those previously incorporated : to provide, at the heart of the appraisal procedure, guidelines that protect the rights of members of staff at least as much as those provided for in existing disciplinary procedures.  The decree will come into force on 1 January 2024, but summative assessment procedures will not be able to begin until the start of the new academic year in 2026.


Decree perpetuating free, sustainable and quality school meals in the schools of the French Community : 20/04/2023

At a time when various studies show that more and more children are finding it difficult to eat properly, the Government of the French Community has approved a decree aimed at making the system of free school meals permanent in the canteens of the schools of the French Community that cater for less well-off children.  This new decree will make the scheme permanent and will now cover the whole of pre-primary and primary education.  A budget of 21.4 million euros will be devoted to implementing this decree.  This decree will enable almost 28,000 children to have access to a full, healthy meal a day in their school.


A new scheme to support childcare settings : 06/04/2023

The Government of the French Community has adopted an emergency measure aimed at supporting childcare settings in difficulty, thereby preserving places and supporting families.  The funding of subsidised childcare facilities with lower than average incomes will be strengthened through a more balanced distribution of income from all parents' financial contributions.  The aim of the new system is to act upstream, without waiting for an emergency situation, so that any childcare setting in financial difficulty, regardless of its organising authority, can apply for special support from ONE.   Several measures are planned :

  • Direct, targeted financial assistance from ONE to guarantee the short-term viability of a childcare setting ;
  • Accelerated funding of management posts by ONE for childcare settings in difficulty.


308 schools will offer healthy and sustainable meals to nearly 28,000 children from the beginning of the school year 2022 : 01/07/2022

The call for projects, launched for the years 2022 to 2024, aimed at offering free hot meals of high nutritional quality and integrating sustainability criteria in pre-primary schools and in the 2 first years of primary schools. With a view to equal opportunities, it was specifically the schools with a differentiated framework, ranked from 1 to 5 in terms of their socio-economic index, that were targeted.

Compared to the previous year, the measure has been extended up to the 2nd year of primary education and 90 additional schools, spread over 24 new municipalities, will be included in this approach, which promotes the health of children and the purchasing power of the parents.

The total subsidy for the 308 projects amounts to almost 12 million euros.

The aim is to continue to increase the budgets so that, at the end of the legislature, all pre-primary and primary school children in the most socio-economically disadvantaged schools will be able to eat a healthy meal at school.


Renovation of school buildings and European recovery plan : €269 million allocated to 149 schools : 23/06/2022

The Government of the French Community approved the list of files prioritised in the context of the call for renovation projects resulting from the European Recovery and Resilience Plan (NextGenerationEU).

The call for projects, launched in October 2021 among all the organising authorities, has made it possible to give priority to 149 school sites accommodating nearly 55,000 pupils who will benefit from this recovery plan.

In concrete terms, this involves 269 million euros of subsidies that will result in a total of more than 400 million euros of investment for school buildings in the French Community. In addition, the loan guarantee and the assumption of interest by the organising authorities are provided to finance the part of the investments that would not be covered by the Recovery Plan.

In order to select the renovation projects, objective criteria were used to emphasise the most qualitative files in order to contribute to the energy transition but also to the well-being of pupils and teaching staff.


Early childhood care: launch of the call for projects for 1,224 new places in Brussels : 12/05/2022

On the initiative of the Minister for Childhood, the Government of the French Community approved the launch of the call for projects for 1,224 new childcare places in Brussels as part of the "1000 first days" plan.

This plan aims to create 2,100 new places in Brussels by 2026, in close collaboration with the Brussels-Capital Region, via its Minister-President and the Minister for Employment. 876 of the 2,100 places had already been planned in terms of infrastructure and will be able to open soon. The construction and development of the additional 1,224 places will be spread over the next four years, with priority given to the areas that are most in need.

Improving the quality and accessibility of childcare is one of the most effective levers for the well-being and development of children, but also for the fight against child poverty. The positive effects of quality childcare during the first thousand days of life have been demonstrated, particularly for children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

For this reason, priority will be given to areas where the lack of childcare places is most acute, i.e. with a subsidised coverage rate of less than 33%.

In total, the "1000 first days" plan initiated by the Minister for Childhood aims to create some 5,000 places in Brussels and Wallonia by 2026. The creation of new childcare places is done in close cooperation with the Regions, which are responsible for employment and infrastructure policies.


New adjustments to the early childhood care reform and a general refinancing : 31/03/2022

The Government of the French Community adopted a draft decree that makes new adjustments to the early childhood care reform and initiates a general refinancing of this sector. All childcare centres, including those that are currently unsubsidised, will henceforth be able to access a subsidy from the ONE to finance the management staff, up to a maximum of half or full time depending on the capacity of the centre.

40 million was obtained for this project, which aims to improve the quality and accessibility of centre-based settings, as part of the ONE's new management contract. Numerous adjustments to the reform of childcare, adopted during the previous legislature, have already been made or are still being made after consultation with the childcare sector by the Minister, so as not to jeopardise employment and childcare settings and to take account of the realities on the ground.

This new decree initiates a general refinancing of the sector. The adjustments made to the regulations to allow real access to the basic subsidy for all are an innovation. The Minister is also pursuing efforts to improve access to quality childcare for more children on the one hand and, on the other, to support professionals in this sector in Wallonia and Brussels. This subsidy contributes fully to this objective as it gives concrete expression to a key element identified: a significant refinancing focused on management and supervisory staff. Furthermore, this subsidy invites the directors of the childcare settings to develop inclusive and innovative practices for the children of families who do not attend them.


Covid 19 crisis


Draft decree : new annual school rhythms : 24/02/2022

The Government definitively approved, in 3rd reading, the draft decree on the adaptation of annual school rhythms, from the start of the 2022-2023 school year, for all types and levels of compulsory education. This text sets out the various provisions necessary to ensure the practical implementation of the reform of annual school rhythms and establishes the principles that will govern the organisation of the school year and school holidays in the future. It also establishes the calendars for the next two school years. The draft decree also includes a series of adjustment measures for out-of-school care and will be accompanied by additional measures for the youth sector to ensure a harmonious and coherent application of the reform. The text also presents transitional mechanisms allowing to favour as much as possible the convergences between the school calendar of the French Community and those of the other Communities, without however derogating from the essential principles of the reform. The philosophy of the reform, designed to better respond to the well-being of the child, is to follow the "7+2" model, alternating 7 weeks of classes followed by 2 weeks of holidays.  


Covid 19 crisis


New financing of the "Itinérances" project : 09/09/2021

The Government of the French Community has decided to renew the financing of the "Itinérances" project. This project, run by the Belgian Red Cross in collaboration with the Relais enfants-parents and the services for prisoners, aims to take care of the journey of prisoners' children to prison when their families or relatives are unable to take them there.


Guidance note on the prevention of bullying and school climate : 09/09/2021

The Government of the French Community has approved a guidance note on the prevention of bullying and school climate. The ambition is to be part of a broader vision of school climate, which includes factors of school violence but also school justice, cooperation, coeducation and quality of life at school. This approach makes it possible to develop a framework for action that is appropriate for each school and that looks beyond the author-victim relationship to include the school community as a whole.


Strenghtening of the Specialised Early Childhood Services : 15/07/2021

The Specialised Early Childhood Services subsidised by the ONE (Office for Birth and Childhood) will be strengthened in terms of childcare staff. This decision of the Government of the French Community is part of the more global framework of the special attention given to the most vulnerable children and the fight against child poverty.



The new management contract of the Office for Birth and Childhood (ONE : Office de la Naissance et de l'Enfance) comes into force.  The new management contract extends, but does not reproduce, the decree and regulatory provisions applicable to the Office, and focuses on the changes it intends to achieve and identifies the means to achieve them. To this end, the new management contract is structured around three levels : 1.    Childhood in 2025 sets the horizon for the ONE's action and its contribution to children's policy. This vision is in line with the ambitions of the Community Policy Statement 2019-2024 ; 2.    The strategic objectives and operational objectives define, on the basis of this vision, the priorities for action for ONE in the years to come ; 3.    The mechanism sets out, in legal form, the mobilisations aimed at achieving these strategic objectives and operational objectives. It also determines the means that the Community allocates to the Office to fulfil its missions. 


Creation of Territorial Poles : 17/06/2021

The Government of the French Community voted the decree on the creation of the Territorial Poles in charge of supporting ordinary schools in the implementation of reasonable accommodation and permanent full integration and the decree amending the Decree of 3 March 2004 organising special education in order to abolish temporary full integration.


Guidance note on the revision of annual school rhythms : 12/05/2021

The Government of the French Community approved the guidance note on the revision of annual school rhythms, which confirms the decision to revise school rhythms for all types and levels of compulsory education from the start of the 2022-2023 school year. The philosophy of the reform is to follow the "7+2" model, alternating 7 weeks of classes followed by 2 weeks of holidays.  The consequences are the lengthening of the All Saints' and Carnival holidays (two weeks instead of one for each of these holidays) and the shortening of the summer holidays.  The 2022-2023 school year will therefore start on the last Monday of August (29th) and end on the first Friday of July (7th).  This is an important change that will only affect pupils in the French Community.   This organization of the year is designed to better respond to the well-being of the child, and is defended, in particular, by several chronobiologists and pedagogues.  According to them, the summer holidays were too long for the pupils, who were disconnected from school and learning for too long.  Conversely, a single week's holiday in the first and second terms was too little to allow pupils to breathe effectively.


Guarantee a quality school, free and accessible to all : 11/03/2021

The Governments of the Brussels-Capital Region, the French Community and the College of the French Community Commission agreed to draw up a cooperation agreement with a view to strengthening the joint commitments made by the Region and the Communities to meet the specific needs of education and early childhood in Brussels. Five priorities are highlighted as challenges to be met in order to guarantee a quality school, free and accessible to all : - meeting the demographic challenge ; - supporting the school retention of young people in difficulty and fighting against school segregation ; - fighting against child poverty and deprivation ; - revolutionising language learning ; - adopting a specific approach to early childhood. The Governments of the French Community, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Collège of the French Community Commission initiated a joint work to support the creation of early childhood places for the period 2021-2025. This strategy aims to create 2,100 places by December 2025 in the Brussels-Capital Region. These new places are part of a more global strategy covering the entire territory of the French Community and continuing the work begun under the Cigogne III plan adopted during the previous legislature.