More nurseries shut down in Flanders, 207 children left without care

More nurseries shut down in Flanders, 207 children left without care
Agentschap Opgroeien subject leader Ariane Van den Berghe, Agentschap Opgroeien director-general Katrien Verhegge and Crisis manager and secretary-general of the department Welfare Karine Moykens. Credit: Laurie Dieffembacq.

The Agency for Growing Up has suspended the seven Limburg crèches belonging to the non-profit organisations Rheia and Hera due to "financial and organisational problems." The eighth site in Lanaken will lose its licence. The municipalities must rush to find new childcare places for 207 children, reported Het Belang Van Limburg.

Four crèches will disappear in Lommel and crèches in Pelt, Hechtel-Eksel, Hasselt and Lanaken. The number of affected children is 207, all remaining without care.

Parents were informed by the appointed crisis manager by e-mail on Tuesday night. "We regret to inform you that, due to the lack of certainty regarding financial resources, we are unfortunately forced to discontinue our activities from 1 December 2022," the e-mail to the parents read.

Due to the suspension of the crèches, local councils receive subsidies to organise temporary emergency care for the children. "Together with the Local Childcare Desk of the municipalities involved, a solution is being sought for the babies and toddlers," said spokesman Niels Heselmans of the Agency for Growing Up.

Finding space is no easy task

On Tuesday, the municipalities of Pelt, Hechtel-Eksel and Lommel were present to inform parents, sympathising with their situation and admitting that finding space for the children affected in their towns is no easy task. Many also complained that, as local governments, they were only called in the day before the suspension.

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In Lanaken, where 25 children were affected, the municipality wants to expand its own shelter 't Blommeke in advance. "We are going to try to start up the emergency shelter already during December." An information moment for parents will follow on Monday 5 December.

Niels Heselmans stressed that the Growing Up Agency is working hard to find solutions. "It is indeed not an easy exercise, but we notice a lot of goodwill among all parties."

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