Raising children can become more challenging when working in a foreign country. However, many factors make parenting in Belgium easy. The UN 2019 Human Development Report ranked Belgium as the 17th most developed nation in the world, with a HDI score of 0.919. Here is a quick look at what expat parents in Belgium can expect.
Infant care and schooling
Affordable government crèches staffed by competent staff can care for children up to 3 years of age. The cost of government crèches depends on the family income and marital status (single or both parents sharing the cost). Crèche spots are always in high demand, and it is helpful for parents to reserve them early. Crèche facilities are very helpful for parents working full time.
Belgium’s school system is among world’s best. Numerous foreign expats living in the country attest to this fact. Belgium offers top-notch education at all levels, from kindergarten to tertiary institutions. The percentage of kids enrolled in pre-primary education in Belgium is one of the highest among OECD countries. Data from OECD indicates a 98.3 % enrollment rate for Belgium, ranking it 6 out of 41 nations. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranked Belgium higher than the OECD average.
Belgium is an excellent place to have a child. It has a great maternal health system. Organizations such as the Brussels Childbirth Trust (BCT) help expat parents. The BCT offers an array of prenatal and postnatal services. It organizes social events like coffee mornings and playgroups for pregnant women. The BCT aims to be the go-to hub for new and expectant expat parents. The BCT has 1,200 members from 70 countries. It provides the perfect space for interacting with other nationals and to share parenting experiences.
Another factor that makes Belgium great for parenting is safety. The Global Peace Index ranks 172 independent states and territories on 23 parameters. Belgium has ranked among the top 20 safest nations consistently since 2008. Families living in Belgium can enjoy outdoor spaces including parks and playgrounds. The country offers a range of activities for kids and parents, which is perfect for playtime and family bonding. Belgium’s museums, galleries, and restaurants are child friendly. Many eateries offer high chairs and children’s meals.
Liberal and multilingual
Millions of foreign workers live and work in Belgium. Many of them send remittances to their families via the Ria Money Transfer App. Many expats are fortunate enough to reside in Belgium with their families. The country is a favorite destination for migrant families. Tolerance, mutual respect, and civility are integral to the Belgian culture. This Western European monarchy is a proponent of gender equality and other forms of equality. Kids in Belgium grow up experiencing values like equity and meritocracy. This contributes to optimal mental development. The nurturing environment helps children grow up to be competent and employable in the cosmopolitan work environment of major European cities.
The country’s liberal culture and child-friendly social norms help expat families easily integrate into society. A simple example is the free mingling of genders in public places, which is not common in many developing countries. Most expats who come to Belgium see their kids settling in well and quickly into their new lives. French, Dutch, and German are the official languages in Belgium. Kids in Belgium usually grow up to be multilingual, which gives them an additional advantage.
All children of salaried employees in Belgium are eligible for a child allowance from the government. This is irrespective of the income of parents. The number of children, their age, and presence of disabilities determine the amount paid. In addition, children who remain in school receive a school stipend called ‘allocation secondaire’. They get it until they turn 25 or drop out of school/college. The kids’ mothers are usually the recipients of this allowance. The government’s financial support for children is a big help for both native and expat parents in Belgium.
About the author:
Hemant G is a contributing writer at Sparkwebs LLC, a Digital and Content Marketing Agency. When he’s not writing, he loves to travel, scuba dive, and watch documentaries.