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Episode 5 (sz 2): Klara Segers on the Childcare Case

"There's a recognition that this new rule does not address the ongoing shortage of childcare places but rather restricts access, prioritizing economic contributions over pedagogical or social benefits."


Welcome to this episode of 'Let's Talk About Work'. Today, we are joined by Bart Wuyts from WEB-Blenders and Klara Segers from the Women's Council to discuss changes to the regulations governing childcare facilities. These new rules have captured significant attention due to their impactful nature. Mothers who were pregnant before March 27 can breathe a sigh of relief, but the changes pose new challenges for families already facing difficulties, including many middle-class families. The Women's Council, along with 19 other organizations, is taking this issue to the Constitutional Court. Stay tuned to learn more about this pivotal matter.

Welcome Back

Welcome back, listeners, to another episode of our podcast. This afternoon, we are privileged to have Klara Segers with us. Klara has been working with the Women's Council for some time now. Klara, could you tell us a bit about your role within the Women's Council and what the council itself does?

The Women's Council is an umbrella organization for all Flemish groups and associations committed to gender equality. I have been the communications officer there for a year and nine months, handling everything from social media to press contacts and some internal processes.

The Childcare Case

Today, we are not discussing climate issues but focusing on the 'childcare case'. Could you explain what this entails?

Certainly. The childcare case involves a coalition of 20 organizations that have filed a complaint against the Flemish government over its decision to tighten priority rules in childcare access, as outlined in the latest budget decree. As a collective, including the Women's Council and 19 other organizations, we are deeply concerned and are challenging these changes at the Constitutional Court.

Changes in Regulation

Can you detail the changes in these regulations according to the new Flemish government rules?

Previously, childcare initiatives had to reserve at least 20% of their capacity for children from vulnerable situations. The new regulation, effective from April 1st, now limits these initiatives to reserving a maximum of 10% for vulnerable groups or long-term ill parents. This means that the remaining 90% of spaces require parents to be working at least four-fifths of a full-time schedule. This adjustment significantly narrows the opportunities for families not meeting this work criterion, potentially excluding thousands from necessary childcare.

Impact and Concerns

This seems to be a significant alteration. I can imagine many full-time working parents might initially feel they have better chances now, but what has been the general feedback?

The feedback from full-time working parents has generally been of concern rather than relief. They often express that priority should remain with vulnerable families, as they can manage short-term without childcare. There's a recognition that this new rule does not address the ongoing shortage of childcare places but rather restricts access, prioritizing economic contributions over pedagogical or social benefits.

Legal Challenges and Coalition

You've mentioned forming a coalition. What types of organizations are involved?

Our coalition includes unions, women's rights groups, poverty advocacy organizations, human rights bodies, and childcare providers themselves, all united by shared concerns over these prioritization rules. Each organization brings its perspective and urgency to the issue, advocating from their unique standpoint.

Outlook and Actions

Looking forward, how do you see this legal challenge unfolding?

We've engaged a strong team of lawyers from the Progress Lawyers Network to prepare our petition, which we'll submit to the Constitutional Court in May. The legal process is expected to last about 1.5 years, during which we'll see the real-life impacts of these changes unfold, further highlighting the necessity of our challenge.

Final Thoughts

Listeners, you've been tuned into 'Let's Talk About Work', a podcast by WEB-Blenders. Our discussions cover work, the journey to employment, well-being at work, and all related topics. Find us on your preferred podcast platform and at blenders.be/podcast. Follow us on LinkedInand on Instagram. Stay engaged and let us know if you'd like to be a guest on our show through info@blenders.be.

This conversation promises to spark thought and action, reflecting our ongoing commitment to addressing societal challenges and supporting those in need. Thank you for joining us.