Healthcare for Toddlers and Young Children

Find out about the healthcare services and facilities available for expectant parents, babies, toddlers and young children in Belgium...

ONE and K&G take responsibility for pre-natal care and for the care of children under three years of age. They are also responsible for child minding outside school hours for children aged three to 12 years old. The precise approach and services offered may vary slightly by community. Anyone who has given birth in Belgium will already be familiar with the services offered and how to access them.

The role of the travailleurs médico-sociaux (TMS)

ONE has a team of child-care experts known as travailleurs médico-sociaux (TMS) who are there to help the young family with any medical or social problems. They can be consulted at medical centres or will make home visits if requested to do so. They have professional qualifications as either nurses or in the field of social work. Their role is varied and includes advice about dietary issues, clarification of medical consultations, and support with any concerns regarding the child's development. They are also able to help and advise parents on how to obtain the relevant social security benefits. If the parents have emotional or psychological problems the TMS can also offer help and support.

Typically parents with very young children will see their TMS weekly or more often if required. This frequency tends to reduce as the child gets older. In more rural areas consultations may be less frequent.

At birth each child is issued with a record book known as the Carnet de l'Enfant and this should be taken along to any consultation about the child's health or well-being. It contains slips (vignettes) for vaccinations due in the first 18 months of the child's life.

Children can be seen by their own GP for minor ailments but will be regularly checked by a paediatrician or child medical expert under the arrangements provided by the ONE. Their services are free of charge. They will verify that growth and general physical development are progressing normally.

K&G offers services free of charge to expectant parents and families with children under the age of three. These include information evenings, home visits by a district nurse, support and guidance.

Vaccinations

ONE oversees pre-school vaccinations (free of charge) and undertakes hearing and sight tests. Any observations and dates of vaccinations given will be noted in the Carnet de l'Enfant by the appropriate healthcare professional. Under the K & G there are over 300 health centres in Flanders where children can be vaccinated free of charge.

For children who have particular medical problems, a ONE representative (a doctor or TMS) will refer the parent to their own GP who will oversee care in conjunction with other medical facilities such as the local hospital and/or specialists.

Mobile Clinics

In rural areas there is a system of cars sanitaires run by ONE. In essence they are mobile clinics which travel from village to village at pre-arranged times and allow children to be seen by a TMS on a regular basis.

All of these services are ultimately subsidised and supervised by ONE but may be run at a local level by the municipal authority or an independent association. The local municipality will be able to provide full details of how and where to access services as well as lists of childcare facilities in the area.