Bringing your children along
If you are planning to spend a long time working or studying at Ghent University, you may consider bringing your family with you. Although there is nothing wrong with this, a word of caution: prepare your move well and in advance. There's a lot of administrative guidelines and paperwork involved (especially if you have opted for the family reunion procedure). Also, consider the environment in which your family will spend a part of its life.
Note: finding the right accommodation is also crucial since there are strict rules on this (e.g. minimum square feet).
Childcare and school
Apply well in advance because demand by far exceeds supply, especially in an urban area such as Ghent!
Notify your childcare in case of changes to the set schedule (later arrival date, holidays, etc.) and respect the terms of notice.
Day-care services for children between 3 months and 3 years are provided for by nurseries ('crèche' or 'kinderdagverblijf'). Furthermore, there are registered child minders ('onthaalouders' in Dutch) who provide care for a child day or night in their own home. They may be affilliated to a crèche or be completely independent. They can have up to four children in their care at any one time.
Parents may visit the nurseries and child minders and ask questions regarding facilities, staffing levels and qualifications, what languages are spoken, whether or not food and nappies are included, and so on.
- Ghent University offers its own childcare for students and staff
- Nurseries via city of Ghent (website in Dutch)
Contact the central support services (IRO Student Support, International Staff Office, ...) for details on schools in the area.
From the age of 3, attendance at kindergarten ('kleuterschool') is voluntary in Belgium.
Primary ('basisonderwijs') and secondary school is mandatory and lasts 12 years, from the age of six to 18.
There are three main education networks:
- community education ('Gemeenschapsonderwijs')
- free subsidised education (mainly Catholic) ('Vrij onderwijsnet')
- and officially subsidised education (organised by local authorities) ('Stedelijk en gemeentelijk onderwijs')
Some schools organise special classes ('onthaalklas' or 'OKAN') for children who have newly arrived in Belgium and cannot speak (sufficient) Dutch to fully participate.
- the child is at least 5 years old
- the child has been registered at the school for a maximum of 9 months
- the child has been in Belgium for a maximum of 1 year
International School Ghent
The City of Ghent offers international education for children from 3 to 12 years. UGent employees receive a 25% discount on the tuition fee.
More information: http://www.isg-ghent.org
They follow a variety of curricula and some offer the International Baccalaureate programme. They are all privately run and therefore are fee-paying. Some offer primary education only while others can cater for all ages including pre-school and nursery age children. In many instances children are taught by nationals from their country of origin.
- Antwerp British School (Antwerp)
- Antwerp International School (Ekeren)
- International School of Brussels (Brussels)
- St John's International School (Waterloo)
- The British School of Brussels (Tervuren)
- Brussels English Primary School (Brussels)
- British International School of Brussels (Brussels)
- International School of Terneuzen (NL)
Refund of childcare costs
In most cases, the fee you pay for childcare facilities depends on your family income, how many children you have in your care and the length of the stay per day. Part of the fee (so-called family contribution) is tax-deductible. The childcare initiative will provide you with a statement for tax purposes once a year.
If the childcare fees that you are paying amount to less than the tax advantage granted for a child below the age of 3, you may be better off by opting for the system of additional tax deduction. Per fiscal year a fixed amount is set.
Child (benefit) allowance
If you have children that live in Belgium, you can apply for a child (benefit) allowance. The amount of the allowance depends on your number of children and their age. For this, you will need a copy of the birth certificate of your child.
The child allowance is almost always paid to the mother of the child. Therefore, the mother has to fill out the necessary documents. The child allowance will be paid on the account of the mother, or on the account of the father if you can prove that the mother has access to that bank account. For this, we will need a form from the bank which states that this is the case.