It Takes a Village to Raise a Child
Priority AxisTechnological and Social Innovation
Lead partnerCity of Mechelen
Project budget4 976 262 €
ERDF amount2 985 757 €
VRAC aims to reduce the risk of school delay and early school leaving for vulnerable children. As they cannot identify with the formal middle class education culture, vulnerable children and families lack a ‘sense of belonging’ in the education system. Parental involvement is low and education professionals do not have the skills nor tools to tackle these problems. If any, they perform stand-alone interventions aimed at particular aspects of children's lives.
Schools are traditionally perceived by society as the predominant actor in succesful school attainment. This results in a lack of institutional support for cross-sectoral cooperation. Previous efforts to cooperate include relocating leisure activities within a school environment and hosting separate projects by third sector organizations. But these initiatives are not interconnected, lack a pipeline approach and do not seem to have any durable effects. VRAC will develop a crosssectoral service that strengthens school attainment.
VRAC wants to develop a new organizational model for education that accommodates the complex situation of vulnerable children, specifically in deprived areas. By developing an integrated service, the limitations of individual attempts will be transcended and the potential of all partners to create strong learning environments will be unlocked . The new service will narrow the gap in mutual expectations, norms and values of all parties involved. Rather than focusing on isolated issues, VRAC will intervene across all contexts in which vulnerable children learn and develop. Thus VRAC will have an impact on the main factors causing early school leaving and school delay and create a higher sense of belonging and wellbeing for children and families, more parental involvement, more competence in supporting the families and more institutional efficiency in cross-sectoral cooperation. This, in turn, will lead to more learning profit and a decrease in school delay and early school leaving.
VRAC will co-construct an integrated community-based education service in deprived areas, developed by a network of new and already existing partners who will collaborate to:
- pilot extended learning time, i.e. joint activities in and outside the school that foster the child's sense of wellbeing. Children are co-owners of this programme and parental involvement in schools will be increased. Extended learning time will be organised in a Cross-sectoral fashion.
- pilot frontline health and care teams for children facing problems at school and at home. Professionals will use a generalist approach, develop a child and family-orientated plan, offer a single point of entry and use the Wraparound Care Model.
- create guidance and policy recommendations to allow policy makers to enhance an integrated approach, and to enable cross-sectoral solution actors to jointly improve wellbeing of young people and their school attainment.
Cross border approach
The educational system is very conservative and only allows for innovation slowly. It does not tune in to the current tendancy towards integrated collaborations. Innovative scientific education models do realise the discrepancy but implementation of best practices remains rare, co-creation non-existant and geographical differences large. VRAC will pool the variety of cross-border expertise, compare tests and pilots and transfer knowledge across regions. VRAC will define a set of core principles and create a basic blueprint for an innovative integrated education service that can be implemented in the Two Seas area and can be adapted according to the specific needs of deprived areas. Stakeholders involved in the pilot will collaboratively translate the philosophy into concrete practices that work across contexts. VRAC will continue to exchange experiences so that this alternative view on supporting education for vulnerable groups in disadvantaged areas becomes a more mainstream approach.
"It takes a village to raise a child" (VRAC) aims to reduce the risk of school delay and early school leaving for vulnerable children and young people. We strenghten the sense of belonging and wellbeing of children and families, we build an integrated service for strong learning environments, and we increase family involvement in children's education.
2020 started with a clear and detailed plan for all pilots and the project as a whole. During the first partner meeting in February 2020, all partners were very much committed to the succesfull implementation of the project. However, the global pandemic altered in almost every way our plans. The consecutive lockdowns, different in each country, made it very difficult the allign activities. The partnership decided to develop and request a major modification, resulting in an extension of the deadline with 4 months. We anticipate that these extra months will help us to meet all the targets set in the original plan.
In 2020 the partners in the consortium reacted creatively and agile to the new erratic situation. For example, PP1 and PP6 organised, between lockdowns, a Summer school using the VRAC principles, PP3 held a survey to be informed about the pressing needs of vulnerable young people, PP7 experimented with online methods to consult young people and their parents. We organised 3 partner meetings, with only the first one in real life (Antwerp). To have more intense contact to allign activities and to keep on focusing on the deliverables, working groups for each work package were established. These working groups meet regularly and are very much hands on. The partner meetings can in this way be more focused on co-learning and overarching themes.
We also finalised the central registration system. Our knowledge partner (PP2) summarizes all the data to develop a thorough analysis of the pilot. With an adapted workplan, all partners are engaged to fully implementing the VRAC project.