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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

4.Early childhood education and care


Last update: 27 March 2024

Place guarantee to ECEC


ECEC facilities are open to all parents from the German-speaking community. However, there is no guarantee that everyone will get a childcare place and even less that everyone will get a place in their chosen childcare location. The three crèches are located in Eupen, Hergenrath and Sankt Vith. A further mini-crèche is due to open in Amel in 2024. There is also a temporary crèche structure in Eupen, which is to be converted into a crèche in the long term. Childminders are present in all nine municipalities of the German-speaking Community. The childcare providers try to offer all parents and guardians a childcare place that best meets their requirements and needs. 

Parents are free to choose the facility. If a childcare place is available at the facility, they will receive it. In contrast to schools, there is no guaranteed place because there are fewer places than children. There are waiting lists, which means that parents have to wait around a year for a place in a crèche, for example. 

In order to distribute the places as fairly as possible, there are prioritization criteria for the childcare locations and service providers subsidized by the German-speaking Community: 

Service providers: 

1. applications from the Central Authority of the Community for Adoption or the department of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community responsible for youth welfare and protection in the context of consensual or judicial youth welfare, guardianship or youth protection; 

2. applications for children who are enrolled as pupils in regular or special primary schools in the German-speaking area; 

3. applications from applicants who are resident in the German-speaking area; 

4. applications from applicants who work in the German-speaking area as an employee, statutory staff member or self-employed person or if the partner who has the same place of residence as the applicant carries out one of these activities in the German-speaking area;  

5. applications for siblings of children who are already being cared for by the same childcare service; 

6. applications from applicants who are resident in the municipality that bears all or part of the potential deficit for the childcare service concerned;  

7. applications in chronological order. 

Pre-primary education

From the age of 3 years, children are legally entitled to 28 teaching hours (50 minutes per hour) per week of pre-primary education in kindergarten.

As a result of an amendment to the federal law of 29th June 1983 on compulsory education, compulsory education has started at the age of 5years since 1st September 2020. Therefore, children aged of 5 years are required to attend pre-primary education full time.

The constitution guarantees parents not only free access to and freedom of choice of school but also the right to choose between government-aided public schools run by provincial or local authorities or government-aided private schools. As pre-primary and primary schools exist in all large villages, there are no problems with fulfilling the place guarantee. In remote areas, where small schools with fewer than 6 pupils in pre-primary and fewer than 12 primary pupils are unable to operate.



Toddler care up to the age of three is subject to a fee. In the case of independent (co-)childminders, parents usually pay around €45 per full-day care session. In the case of subsidized service providers, the parents' share of the costs depends on their income. 

Pre-primary education

For children aged three to six, kindergarten is organized and subsidized by the German-speaking community. There are no autonomous kindergartens. The kindergarten is a school level in itself, but always forms a unit with the elementary school level: the so-called elementary school. Attendance at elementary school is free of charge.