The Flemish Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner detects (warning) signs from children, young people, their immediate environment and professionals. It gives information and advice, investigates complaints and mediates. And on a policy level it provides advice and recommendations - always with a view to compliance with and the application of children’s rights in Flanders.
An independent body of the Flemish Parliament
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner was created by a Flemish Parliament Act. The Children's Rights Commissioner is appointed by the Flemish Parliament. Within the limits of his powers, the Commissioner does not receive instructions from any public authority and is entirely independent in the exercise of his functions.
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner reports on its work through an annual report submitted to the Flemish Parliament.
Consultative and Advisory body
A Consultative and Advisory Body provides support to the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner in the performance of its duties. It is composed of representatives of the political groups in the Flemish Parliament and representatives of civil society and the academic world.
The Children's Rights Commissioner
Caroline Vrijens is the third Children’s Rights Commissioner. She was appointed by the Flemish Parliament and started in August 2019. The first Children's Rights Commissioner was Ankie Vandekerckhove. She was appointed in June 1998 and completed two terms. After that Bruno Vanobbergen was appointed in 2009. He stayed on untill the end of February 2019. The Children's Rights Commissioner performs his duties together with a multidisciplinary team and translates these into a policy plan.
What does the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner do?
Three main tasks;
A Complaint Line for children and young people: information and advice, investigation and mediation
Advisory work for the Flemish Parliament, the Government of Flanders, administrations and agencies, international or foreign authorities or organisations.
Monitoring Commission for Closed Youth Care Institutions’: supervision on the implementation of children’s rights in closed and half open youth care institutions.
Handling of complaints
The Complaint Line of the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner
The Complaint Line of the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner is available to young people under 18 and those defending their interests. Adults can file complaints as long as these concern the rights of a Minor.
Violation of children’s rights
Have the rights of a minor been violated by a public service or authority? Is a young person entangled in regulations and procedures? Or in his relationship with an organisation? Then they can contact the Complaint Line of the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner.They can file complaints about violations of children’s and young people’s rights in different areas, such as healthcare, environment, education, employment, justice, mobility, family, town and country planning, housing,.
The Complaint Line informs, investigates and mediates
Our Complaint Line investigates complaints of injustice against children and young people. We operate thoroughly and independently.
How do we proceed?
We listen to your complaint.
If possible, we also listen to the child's vision, perception, experience and expectation.
We check the complaint against the legal framework, the Children's Rights Convention and ombudsman standards.
If there is a concern that the child's rights have been violated, we can start an investigation. This only happens with your consent and that of the child if possible, and when all other means have been exhausted and have failed to lead to a solution.
We intervene or mediate between all parties involved. Together we look for a solution, paying special attention to your child's best interests.
If intervention is not possible or not desirable, we provide clear advice or refer you to a service or person who can help you and your child.
More information about the Complaint Line will soon be available in english.
Advisory work of the Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner
Some reports to the Complaint Line indicate that there is a structural problem. One that requires action at policy level.
Does an individual complaint indicate unclear, inconsistent, discriminating or missing legislation? Or rules or practices that go against the Convention on the Rights of the Child? In such cases, we notify the competent authority of this. This does not solve the child’s problem immediately. But it can prevent the problems from happening again in the future.
Advice to policy-makers
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner translates the structural problems into dossiers, advice, opinions and reports for the Flemish Parliament. It studies certain issues related to children’s rights and the underlying problems in depth in order to provide information and advice to the Flemish Parliament. It also indicates possible ways to translate these into Flemish regulations. It holds?? new policy initiatives and proposals for new legislations, against the Convention on the Rights of the Child and provides advice.
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner gives advice on its own initiative or at the request of the Flemish Parliament.
Member of ENOC
The Office of the Children's Rights Commissioner is a member of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children(ENOC). Within this network, 44 ombuds services for children exchange experiences and information about their work. ENOC makes statements about Children's rights.