Morale in nursery sector takes severe hit after months of scandals

Morale in nursery sector takes severe hit after months of scandals
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While 90% of crèche operators enjoy doing their jobs, morale has taken a severe beating after the past few months of nursery nightmares that plagued the sector since the heartbreaking incident in February in which a baby died at childcare.

Since then, dozens of nurseries have been forced to close down after inspections by the Opgroeien Agency (Agency for Growing Up) and complaints filed to the police. Understandably, parents have become weary and trust in childcare centres has taken a hit.

The remaining centres feel unfairly judged as they have not committed any of the malpractices themselves. Eight in ten nurseries feel that there is a "witch hunt" occurring in the sector. The Agency for Growing Up and the Care Inspectorate have been identified by staff as major instigators.

Survey to measure sector sentiment

Het Nieuwsblad sent out an online survey to all crèches in Flanders and Brussels, in total the survey was sent to 6,294 nurseries. and 820 responded. 7 in 10 of the respondents were group childcare centres and the rest were reception parents.

A common feeling among the nurseries is that it has been framed as though all nurseries are doing a bad job while many, in fact, love their job. Now, many are considering closing down. While they understand and are also outraged at the nurseries found to abuse children, many mentioned that "a few bad apples" do not represent them all.

It already happens that every year, the sector loses several hundred reception centres and mothers due to things like retirement. However, several nurseries point to the current childcare crisis as another reason. Gwendolien Schelstraete, operator of four crèches in Kluisbergen with a total of 64 places, listed several reasons: "The financial pressure, the atmosphere in childcare after 't Sloeberhuisje, the little support we get from Opgroeien, the growing demandingness of parents."

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The Agency for Growing Up stressed that it only charges a centre to close when there are serious indications that something is not going well. The Care Inspectorate also stated that nothing has changed in the way they screen crèches. However, they also stated that inspectors hardly do 'normal' inspections these days as their hands are full of complaints and reports of dangerous situations.

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