Neighbourhood centre specialises in short-term childcare solutions

A modern crèche in central Brussels often acts as a lifeline for local parents urgently needing a place for their young children. Notable for not operating a waiting list, Elmer in de Stad can accommodate up to 28 children of parents who have just found a job or are on a training course.

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Elmer in de Stad crèche, Brussels. © Brussels Regional Public Service/ERDF Unit Elmer in de Stad crèche, Brussels. © Brussels Regional Public Service/ERDF Unit

" In Elmer in de Stad, high-quality childcare as a neighbourhood service and a work qualification process for priority groups go hand in hand. "

Anne Lambrechts, Elmer association coordinator

Elmer in de Stad is a Dutch-speaking neighbourhood day-care service for children aged between three months and three years. A member of the non-profit Elmer association, it opened in 2009 after the renovation of a caretaker’s house in the Huis van het Nederlands training centre.

Focused on being flexible, the centre prides itself on helping out parents who for whatever reason may need a place for their child for just a few days or weeks, occasionally, full or part-time. If the family is facing a crisis – be it medical, financial or social – the centre’s head carer will even consider requests to admit a child on an emergency basis, provided this is in the child’s best interests.

A social inclusion goal

The centre facilitates the social inclusion of vulnerable people, especially local residents. Among them are people (mainly women) with few qualifications and the long-term unemployed. In 2013, Elmer cared for 71 children, 85 % of them from the priority intervention zone (PIZ) of the EU’s 2007-2013 Operational Programme for Brussels. One of this programme’s objectives is to reduce economic, social and environmental disparities in an area with several rundown districts.

Almost half of the parents with children at Elmer are on a training course in Brussels. Newcomers typically take a ‘social orientation’ module, followed by language courses and vocational training. A further third of parents calling on the centre have found employment locally, with another 12 % having just found a job and urgently needing childcare. The centre strives to support parents throughout their training or employment period with a variety of activities, whilst continuing to support their children’s development.

Elmer in de Stad has hired 12 people, four of them from the PIZ. The centre has offered support for six assistants to graduate as fully skilled caretakers, through two years of alternate work and study leading to a diploma recognised by Kind en Gezin, Belgium’s Dutch-speaking childcare organisation. At any one time, three of the centre’s employees are undertaking this training.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Elmer in de Stad” is EUR 1 002 225, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 232 225 from the Operational Programme “Brussels Capital Region” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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