Flanders cracks down on nurseries following stream of abuse claims

In recent months, a series of reports regarding the abuse of young children in Flemish daycare centres have made headlines. As these incidents continue to surface, the Belgian region is now taking direct action on the issue.

After the re-evaluation of the reception locations where Opgroeien, the child health agency for the region, had already raised concerns, Flemish minister of Welfare Hilde Crevits said she was “not reassured.”

“In consultation with the top woman of Opgroeien and the top woman of the Care Inspectorate we have therefore decided to subject all the remaining daycare centres with reports to an additional on-site inspection in the coming weeks,” she said in a statement on Wednesday. “We are doing this for the sake of caution.”

This announcement follows reports that the West Flemish court is conducting an investigation into possible abuses at a childcare centre in Veurne after a little boy ended up in hospital after being shaken roughly a few weeks ago. Whether the facts took place there or elsewhere is currently being investigated.

The region’s childcare crisis started in February of this year after it was reported that a six-month-old girl died as a result of injuries sustained in daycare centre in Ghent, which was allowed to stay open despite multiple complaints and poor marks during inspections.

In the months following the nursery death, other similar incidents came to light, including one woman who was convicted last year of abusing small children but was allowed to continue running her daycare centre.

This resulted in the government of Flanders stating it would tighten the enforcement and quality policy in the care and welfare sectors.

Crevits has only been Flemish Welfare minister since mid-May. Her predecessor Wouter Beke resigned from his position in May after facing criticism for the situation in Flemish daycare centres and for his approach in the residential care homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, among other things.



Flemish Minister of Welfare Hilde Crevits © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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