The Office of Birth and Childhood (Office de la Naissance et de l’Enfance, further referred to as ONE) is a public institution that develops birth and childhood policies.
To listen to the audio version of the presentation of the ONE, click on this link.
ONE is an independent organism under the Minister for Childhood of the Wallonia & Brussels Federation. The Chairman of the Board of Directors is Mrs. Violaine Herbaux, and the General Director of the Executive Board is Mr. Benoît Parmentier.
The core values guiding the actions of ONE are: “quality, equity, ethics, continuity, and “good-treatment” ”. ONE has a mission statement and management guidelines in order to help employees in their missions.
Its two main missions are:
- To support children's development within their family and social environment; to advise and support pregnant women, parents and families medically and socially in order to ensure the global wellbeing of their children. Most services offered by ONE are free.
- To organise (that is, to control and sometimes to finance) day care centres for children outside of the home environment. ONE's role is to ensure that these structures operate correctly and provide quality care for children.
ONE also has cross-disciplinary missions such as parenting support.
A network of prenatal clinics and centres supervised by ONE is organised all over Wallonia and Brussels in order to meet families’ needs during pregnancy and at birth. Prenatal consultations can be organised with local hospitals, but also in local “prenatal centres”, outside of the hospital. ONE develops specific actions in order to guarantee vulnerable groups easy access to these services and strongly supports breastfeeding, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO).
The purpose of prenatal consultations is to ensure a safe and successful pregnancy and to minimize the risk of premature births and underweight babies.
Once pregnancy is confirmed, each mother receives a Mother’s Notebook (Carnet de la Mère), which serves as a link between all health professionals. Check-ups will be regularly scheduled, during which women will receive medical information concerning:
- physiological and biological changes during pregnancy
- prenatal nutrition
- healthy lifestyle recommendations
Families also receive a Parent’s Notebook that highlights the importance of the father’s role.
Pregnant women will be seen by a gynaecologist or a midwife and a medical social worker (Partenaires Enfants-Parents or PEP's, usually a woman, with a social work or nursing background).
They will follow the pregnancy, the development of the baby and check the future mother’s health by performing blood tests and echographies/ultrasounds.
The PEP's will be available to answer questions, give information about pregnancy, delivery and birth, diet, etc. and to visit the future mum in order to help her with administrative paperwork depending on the family's needs and background (i.e. birth allowance, etc.).
Partenaires Enfants-Parents or PEP's are child health experts employed by ONE. Their services are free and they can be consulted in medical centres and hospitals, or at home if requested. Prenatal and postnatal services are connected.
Contact details of all the prenatal centres in your region are available at the local ONE administration. There is a "Subregional Administration" in each province: Brussels, Brabant Wallon, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg and Namur.
For further information please click here.
Consultation points for children from 0 to 6 years
ONE also takes care of postnatal care when mothers and new-borns return home. There are over 627 consultation points for young children in Brussels and Wallonia. In some less accessible areas, mobile clinics/consultations are organised, offering the same services as the regular clinics/consultations.
Consultations for children are also free and open to every parent with children aged from 0 to 6 years. Their main objective is preventive care and consists of checking up on the child’s good health. It’s important to note that no medical treatment is provided at these clinics. A team including a doctor, a medical social worker (PEP's) and volunteers will welcome parents and children, by appointment, in order to perform a series of preventive medical examinations (vaccines, visual and auditory tests/screening, etc.). The Partenaires Enfants-Partenaires (PEP's) also propose home visits. They can answer any questions the parents may have, thereby supporting parents in their role.
Numerous activities are organised in the clinics: conferences, game corners, reading corners, etc. These activities give parents an opportunity to meet other parents and to share their experiences.
At birth, each child also receives a notebook known as the “Carnet de sané de 0 à 18 ans”, which has to be taken along to any consultation about the child's health or well-being.
The “Carnet de santé de 0 à 18 ans” is used to:
- record performed vaccinations and plan future ones
- note details of the child's physical and social development (i.e. weight and height, visual and auditory tests, etc.)
It also contains general information about child’s development and as well as health advice.
Contact details of all the consultation points in your region are available at the local ONE administration. There is a "Subregional Administration" in each province: Brussels, Brabant Wallon, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg and Namur.
Day care settings
Wallonia and Brussels have an extensive network of quality day care centres (nurseries, kindergartens and childminders), for babies and children aged 3 months to 3 years.
All childcare facilities are subject to strict regulations enacted and controlled by ONE. No childcare settings are allowed to welcome children without approval of ONE.
ONE ensures that these structures operate correctly and provide quality care for children. Some of them are financed by ONE. There is a "quality code" that is a compulsory reference for all childcare centres. Day care centres have to respect different fundamental conditions: employee training, building quality, security of the accommodation, social and psychological attention to each child, etc.
There are two kinds of facilities:
- Collective facilities (i.e. “crèches”, nurseries, kindergartens): the child is welcomed into a group of children supervised by one or several nursery nurses depending on the number of children. At least one adult is required for every 6 or 7 children.
- Childminders in (home setting): your child is welcomed into the home of a childminder in a small group of children (maximum 4 children for one childminder). Two childminders are permitted to work together, so a maximum of 8 children can be welcomed.
Some ONE accredited day care centres are fully financed by ONE. In these day care centres the daily rate is based on the parents' income (under certain conditions). Other day care centres are accredited by ONE but don’t receive any subsidies. The daily rate is then determined by the day care centre.
ONE also supervises:
- flexible day care centres, called “haltes accueil”, a special formula conceived for parents who just need to leave their child in secure professional care for a few hours.
- meeting points for parents and children (Dolto model)
Contact details of all the day care centres in your region are available at the ONE local administration. There is one "Subregional Administration" in each province: Brussels, Brabant Wallon, Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg and Namur.
Find a day care centre by using our search engine.
Your child is about to enter daycare : check out our brochure « Familiarisation »
For further information please contact your Subregional Administration.
Activities during spare time
ONE ensures quality spare time activities for pupils aged from 3 years to 12 years old thanks to three major sectors:
1. After school activities
These activities take place before or after school on Wednesday afternoons and sometimes during the weekend.
These activities can take place at school or outside of the school setting.
The activities aim at supporting the child's development involving movement and creativity. There are cultural, athletic, artistic and creative activities such as pottery, painting, crafts, theatre, basketball, excursions and walks.
2. Collective and individual homework support
Facilitators and volunteers often help young people with their homework because the home environment is not always the best place to concentrate or to get help from an adult.
This support serves as a transition between school and children’s home environment.
In addition to academic support, various activities (cultural, creative and sportive) and games are available for children. They are organized in the spirit of cooperation and citizenship education, with emphasis on multicultural aspects and learning to respect one another.
The team is composed of qualified employees or volunteers whose mission is to support children's learning and civic education. The atmosphere is relaxed, sometimes studious, and sometimes creative, with moments of work and moments of breaks, laughter and discovery.
Homework support is provided in the centre of the cities and towns, outside of school, in a appropriate and often shared space (for example in a "Maison de Quartier").
3. Holiday camps, Holiday activities
These camps or activities are aimed at children aged 3 to 15 years (sometimes older) and take place during school holidays.
Nearly 3,500 holiday camps are organised each year!
Organizers must provide children with fun and fulfilling activities supervised by qualified personnel. These holiday activities include sports, arts, and discoveries of local biodiversity.
There are three types of holiday activities:
3.1 “Holiday activities in the neighbourhood”
Children attend these camps during the day and return home in the evening. Holiday activities often occur near children's home, in the municipality. The proposed activities are held outdoors as often as possible with games that help develop movement, running, and jumping, but the biggest goal is that the children have fun.
3.2 A stay abroad or in Belgium
Children can also go to the Belgian coast, to the Ardennes or even abroad for several days during their vacation. The holidays are an opportunity to explore the communal way of life and to learn to respect one another.
3.3 “Children Holiday Camp, Summer Camp”
Children enrolled in a local youth movement (like scouts) can go to a "big summer camp”. The camp is the culmination of a year of weekly activities and projects.
Assistance to children in difficulty
In case of medical, psychological and social difficulties, the maintenance of the child's well-being is the top priority. Institutions like foster homes and foster parents exist in order to remove children from dangerous home situations.
Since 1980, ONE has also developed a specific division to prevent and treat child abuse, through the “SOS Children” teams. Financed by ONE, these teams are very experienced and able to support families when a child is physically abused, neglected or sexually abused. These teams have also developed a prenatal preventive service.
For further information please click here.
ONE also has an adoption service. The purpose of this service is to set up domestic adoptions for babies born in Belgium, with no religious, racial or political discrimination. Biological parents who put their child up for adoption as well as foster parents benefit from psychological and administrative support.
For further information please click here.
Studies and researches
ONE is conducting research and collecting data in order to get a better image of family demographics within the Wallonia & Brussels Federation. For example, The Medical Social Data Bank is an important scientific tool collecting information related to the families' medical and social situations.
ONE also has medical counsellors/advisors (paediatricians & gynaecologists) in every region. Their role is to ensure that decisions concerning health policy in each of the sub-regions are based on scientific expertise.
Medical and psycho-pedagogic departments work closely with the Research Department as well. These departments report to the ONE’s Central Administration.
Informing families and childhood professionals
ONE wants to increase public awareness about health and preventive actions. It does so via multimedia campaigns, websites and TV programs (available on YouTube).
In addition, ONE creates, develops, adapts and publishes a wide range of brochures and posters about child development and child appropriate environments. Annual reports or other scientific materials are also available.
For further professional's information please click here.
The Houtman Fund
The Houtman Fund was created in 1989 by ONE in honour of Mr. Herman Houtman. Its main objective/mission is to support and finance actions and research specifically dedicated to disadvantaged children in the Wallonia & Brussels Federation (while ONE has a more general approach oriented towards all families and children). The Houtman Fund is run by a distinct committee including President Claudia Camut and Deputy Head Marc Vainsel. Since 1989, it has supported around 100 projects addressing roughly 40 themes. It also presents a reward for a long-term work dedicated to disadvantaged children every 5 years.
External and international collaborations
ONE is always interested in developing new external and international partnerships. We are especially interested in scientific research, international collaboration, health education projects and exchanges of good practices. Among many others, ONE's current main concerns are:
- fighting against families' poverty and health inequalities
- continuing to develop universal services for pregnant women, parents and children
- defending children's rights and developing parenting support
For further information or if you are interested in becoming a new partner:
Direction of External and International Affairs
Nicole Roland, Director
95 Chaussée de Charleroi
Since its founding in 1919, the Office of Birth and Childhood (ONE) has changed quite bit, following closely the needs of its social environment. Today, it is not only an organization widely known by the francophone population in Belgium, but also the reference organization for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation for all matters related to childhood policies.
ONE develops and assures quality and diverse host environments for children outside their family milieu. The institution also pursues an ambitious policy of child and family accompaniment via various structures dispersed across southern Belgium and Brussels. By closely abiding to the realities of families themselves, the Office adapts its policies of preventative medicine to local realities, all while offering the population a universal, free service.