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Date: 30-03-2021

Parenting as a Talent for Future Childcare Workers

The Childcare Unit of the city of Ghent, also ISSA member, is training parents as childcare workers. Parents involved in parent participation actions in the Ghent Childcare Settings are addressed and offered a training to gain vocational skills, whilst simultaneously having their children looked after. Parents who engage in the training program get additional mentorship and financial support since not only their enrolment fee is cancelled, but also training related costs become free of charge.

The program was introduced two years ago and its main idea is to translate ‘parenting’ into professional competences as a childcare worker. The project targets unemployed parents who are often in a vulnerable position. Being a parent, in training, and doing internships is not an easy balance. Therefore, the project engages a jobcoach as a single-point-of contact for tailored support during the project.

“They teach us a lot of stuff. At the beginning I thought the work with children was going to be easy. But now I see that there is a lot to learn. If you learn everything and pass the exams, it gives you a lot of self-confidence. Thanks to this training, I am more changed and grown,” shares Herrat her experience, one of the mothers in the project.

This innovative way of looking at parents as potential workers is a shift in the paradigm and creating chances for vulnerable groups to enter the workforce in a very supportive manner and for ECEC facilities to become a mirror of the environment they are located in. 

"Parents bring their children to the childcare centre, and because of this project they can grow as a person as well," explains Bjorn Martens, project manager. "It is not only about professional skills, but also personal skills, and the job coach works on these two areas. Actually, every conversation with the coach starts with the question: how are you?"

The city of Ghent benefits in finding a new source of well-trained and motivated staff while the diversity of trainees (in language, cultural background and life experience) is a great opportunity to improve the workforce diversity. This diversity of staff while valuing and welcoming the neighborhood into the childcare settings makes early childhood education and care more accessible to all parents.

14 mothers attended the training that lasted two years. Two parents finished the training, 10 more take their final exams in June 2021. The project involved 32 child care centers. The project is implemented by the Belgian city of Ghent with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation and the Belgian Child Poverty Fund.


Video courtesy: Euronews