In Belgium, two childcare centers were closed last week by inspections due to violations. The one in Oudenaarde, below Ghent, has had its permit permanently withdrawn. And another in Keerbergen, between Antwerp and Brussels, will have to close for two months. Grumpy has been in the sector for a long time.
Horror stories, this is what the Belgian media call the abuses in the care of children in Oudenaarde. Engeltje was indeed closed on Thursday, but now more is known about what happened there.
The inspection report in the hands of Het Laatste Nieuws indicates that things were running smoothly. Children who dared to sit in the children’s toilet were pushed in with their hands and heads. Inspection then discovered the toilet flushed. And if children refuse to eat, they are dealt with cruelly.
He feeds until he vomits
“Food was shoved into their mouths until they choked, resulting in vomiting. Then they were pushed into a corner. A child who did not want to eat even had his head pulled back and put between his knees to force him to eat,” says a former employee of the nursery in Oudenaarde.
The Inspectorate presented this to the person responsible for childcare. The woman replies, “It is true that we sometimes stand behind the children to help them eat.” “They can put their heads back. Then sometimes their heads come between the legs. But they don’t go between the knees.”
Changing signs in Keerbergen
At the Mippie and Moppie 2 shelter in Keerbergen, a staff member reported this to the authorities. She posted a picture of a baby in his sleeping bag that was taped to a bed.
According to the founder of the nursery, there is slander by a former employee. “We were going to fire her, and then she did this.” According to the owner, the scene was filmed with duct tape.
Many parents tell the HLN that they are satisfied with the care and a childcare board member says in recent years that he has not had any official reports of abuse at the nursery in Keerbergen.
Reception is under severe pressure
At the beginning of this year, an incident in a childcare center in Mariakerke, a sub-municipality of Ghent, caused a sensation. A six-month-old baby died of brain trauma, possibly as a result of shaken baby syndrome, which occurs when a baby is shaken vigorously.
For years, there have been complaints about violence in ‘t Sloeberhuisje. The then welfare minister, Beck, expressed his surprise that the inspectorate had not decided to close the shelter.
Childcare in Belgium has been under pressure for some time. Each carer is responsible for an average of nine children, which is a much higher number than in the rest of Europe.
She is waiting for an accident.
It’s a big problem. “We see that more and more staff are dropping out or stopping, more and more living groups are open for shorter periods or even close permanently. This was a problem in Brussels at first, then you’ve seen it again in other cities and now also in non-metropolitan areas.”
It is difficult to say whether abuses have arisen because the sector is under pressure. However, international studies have been conducted in similar situations in the past. “We know from this that there is a good chance of things going wrong if staff are under such pressure. And then people can lose patience. And if people work in isolation, it takes a long time before alarm bells go off. It’s a risk we’re running in Flanders, it’s Waiting for an accident.”
Hope for change
The crisis in the shelter has been going on for a long time, since the 90s. The cheapest possible way. If you calculate the government’s hourly contribution per child, that’s about half of what employees earn in the Netherlands. “
Vandenbroek is very hopeful that the sector will change. “Partly because of scandals and recent actions by parents and staff, political and social support has never been greater.”
The Minister of Welfare Appropriations promised to draw up a plan next year with employers, employees and experts to improve the situation in childcare.