Centre for Innovation in the Early Years (VBJK)


Scientific Expertise

VBJK is a research centre certified by the Federal Government. Since the start in 1986 VBJK has mainly developed action research projects in the sector of Childcare. The first action research studies were conducted on improving the professionalism of the childcare workers and the family day carers. The first extended project on working in a context of diversity in services for young children and their parents was the European NOW project (MEQ, 1995-1998). Action research on how to work with children and their parents from ethnic minority background has since then been one of the main themes of VBJK.
Since the beginning of the new millennium the centre has also successfully invested in 3 PhD studies (Developing a theory on the societal function of ECEC - Michel Vandenbroeck, An international Perspective on professionalism in Flemish Childcare - Jan Peeters, The guidance of parents and young children with behavioral problems from a developmental psycho-pathological and socio-pedagogical perspective - Wim De Mey). A 4th PhD will start in February 2012 by Katrien van Laere on Conceptualisations of care and education in services for young children and their impact on children of ethnic minority background and children living in poverty.


The team of VBJK consist of three PhD senior researchers, one specialist on childcare and diversity, one on parental support initiatives and one on leadership in schools. Next to these PhD researchers there are 8 more staff members on master level specialised in accessibility of services for young children, parental support programs for parents (at risk), meeting places for fathers and mothers, second language development of young children rights of (young) children and professional development. Most of these staff members are also specialised in the development of didactical materials for the practitioners working with young children and their parents.


VBJK is an official partner of Kind en Gezin, the governmental organization responsible for services for young children and their parents in the Flemish Community of Belgium. VBJK has long tradition in working with the stakeholders of the childcare sector and the sector of parental support. In all the research projects of VBJK, sector organisations were represented in the advisory board and they are also represented in the Board and the council of VBJK since the beginning.
Since end of the nineties, VBJK is also very active in transnational networks. VBJK was one of the founding members of the European Network on Diversity in Early Childhood Education and care (DECET), but now left the Decet-network to take an active role in the ISSA-network. The director of VBJK was also co-founder of Children in Europe, a network of magazines on ECEC that publishes a magazine in 15 languages, twice a year, which is distributed all over Europe. The director is also an elected Board member of the International Step by Step Association (ISSA) a ECEC network of NGO's in 29 countries in East and Middle Europe and Middle Asia.