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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisation of ECEC for children aged under 3 years

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

4.Early childhood education and care

4.2Organisation of ECEC for children aged under 3 years

Last update: 27 March 2024

Admission requirements and choice of ECEC setting

The Ministry of the German-speaking Community is not directly responsible for the organization of facilities in the field of early childhood care, education and childcare for children under the age of three, but various private individuals, private companies, non-profit associations and a public interest institution. These mainly organize childcare services to enable parents to access the world of work (work-life balance). 

The Family Department of the Family and Social Affairs Division of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community is responsible for the recognition and subsidization of the facilities as well as the quality assurance and inspection of the service providers and the people working in childcare.  

The legal basis for childcare in the German-speaking Community is the Decree of 31 March 2014 on childcare, the Decree of 22 May 2023 on the creation of a German-speaking Community Childcare Center, the Government Decree of 22 May 2014 on services and other forms of childcare and the Government Decree of 22 May 2014 on self-employed childminders. In addition, there is a ministerial decree defining the applicable safety regulations for premises as well as various conventions on the recognition and subsidization of temporary and local projects in ECEC. 

Regular toddler care is aimed at children aged between zero and three. Parents have the choice of having their child looked after by a childminder or in a collective childcare structure (various forms of crèches and co-structures). For ad hoc care, parents can make use of day nurseries without prior registration. 

The Center of the German-speaking Community for Childcare (ZKB) is the largest childcare service provider in the German-speaking Community. It has the legal status of a public interest institution and took over all childcare activities of the former VoG Regional Center for Early Childcare on January 1, 2024.  

The ZKB comprises: 

- a childminder service: it offers childcare places in all nine municipalities of the German-speaking Community and currently employs around 65 childminders. These childminders are either licensed as conventional childminders or are employed as childminders/chaperones working from home under the new "full statute". The care always takes place outside the residence of the child to be cared for and in the private premises of the childminder. 

- Crèches: The ZKB is responsible for three crèches: Eupen, Hergenrath and St. Vith. The crèches in Eupen and St. Vith have a childcare capacity of 24 places for children aged between zero and three, while 36 places are available in Hergenrath. 

Self-employed (co-)childminders 

The self-employed childminders are recognized by the responsible minister of the German-speaking Community. The ZKB provides advice and support for self-employed childminders. 

The self-employed childminders set their own rates and working hours.  

In contrast to subsidized service providers, they do not have to apply any prioritization criteria and are therefore free to choose the children they look after.  

Self-employed childminders receive various subsidies, which have led to a number of new childminders starting work in recent years and a sharp increase in the number of childcare places. 

Group size and child-staff ratios

The crèches have a care capacity of 24 or 36 places for children between the ages of zero and three. In order to guarantee the best possible care, the children are divided into smaller groups. 

Each childminder looks after a maximum of six toddlers between the ages of zero and three and two children between the ages of three and twelve and there is no specific group formation. 

Annual, weekly and daily organisation

The crèches offer childcare for 50 hours per week. The ZKB crèches are currently open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm.  

The independent childminders set their own timetable and closing days. Care can also be provided during the night or on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. 

The childminders, who are employees, are bound by the rules of the public sector with regard to weekly working hours (38 hours) and vacation days. Their working hours are determined in consultation with their superiors.