Starting from July 1st, the VUB officially receives recognition for the House of the Child Theodora located on the Brussels Health Campus in Jette. Theodora aims to create opportunities for families to connect and bring together partners working in preventive family support. With this recognition, the VUB aims to fulfill its role as an Urban Engaged University in an even more effective manner.

Theodora is one of the seven physical locations of the renewed collaboration known as "Huis van het Kind Brussel" (House of the Child Brussels) that will commence this year. A House of the Child provides information to (expecting) parents and children about parenting and child development. The House of the Child relies on the assistance and expertise of local partner organizations that have been actively involved in this field for a considerable period.

"The recognition and establishment of a House of the Child at the VUB-Child Campus Theodoor align perfectly with the values upheld by the VUB as an Urban Engaged University: a university for, with, and in the city," states VUB Rector Jan Danckaert. "Through its living-lab philosophy, the VUB aims to utilize its (child) campus and expertise in collaboration with the various actors in Brussels. Raising children, especially in an urban context, is not always easy. By assisting children in their growth and supporting parents in their upbringing, we contribute to building a better future for the next generations. This initiative further enhances our fulfillment of our societal role."

Kick-off in the presence of ministers 

In the lead-up to the launch of the new House of the Child Brussels, Theodora received visits on June 21st from prominent figures such as Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health, and Family Hilde Crevits, and the President of the College of the Flemish Community Commission Elke Van Den Brandt. VUB Fellow Hilde Crevits expressed gratitude to the VUB for hosting one of the seven Houses of the Child in Brussels on its campus in Jette. "By extending beyond the university premises, the VUB highlights its significance in our society and hopefully inspires the rest of Flanders through this initiative." Former VUB student Elke Van Den Brandt also expressed admiration, stating, "Behind the House and the VUB, there are people with a clear vision who strive to make a difference for children. It will serve as an anchor point from even before children are born until their rebellious adolescence."

Theodora 

The child campus Theodoor already houses several partners, including the Child & Family Agency's consultation office, the VUB childcare center, the school, the after-school care, and the scouts, all of which play significant roles in the lives of young families. Space has also been allocated for the General Welfare Center. With the addition of Theodora, a new partner will be joining. Parents will be able to seek information on topics such as childcare enrollment, pregnancy, care, healthy nutrition, and parenting. The offerings will be shaped through collaboration with these partners, the perinatal center UZ Brussel, and other organizations that bring added value to (future) families.

Nic Van Craen, General Administrator of the VUB, visibly expressed pride, stating, "The integration of various partners strengthens the ecosystem. This is not only beneficial for prioritizing the well-being of children but also for VUB staff and students, as they can work and leave their children in a supportive environment. With the university's presence, the pedagogy behind our childcare model is scientifically supported and will be further developed through the House of the Child."

VUB childcare centers 

During the visit, DaniΓ«lla Vanhaverbeke, policy officer for the two VUB childcare centers, and Sarah Henry, head of the VUB childcare centers, provided a tour of the new building to the ministers. "In addition to the recognition received for the two childcare centers, the VUB has long been recognized for the consultation office within the centers. Due to the integrated family policy in Brussels, that recognition now falls under the House of the Child. However, the status of our childcare centers will remain unchanged," explained DaniΓ«lla. Sarah added, "With one significant difference. We are now situated in Jette, in a prime location, between a renowned hospital with extensive expertise and the abundant greenery of the Laarbeekbos."

Just the beginning 

Isabelle Selleslag, Head of Campus Facilities, mentioned, "The VUB will take on the organization and coordination of Theodora. We are actively seeking the most interesting Brussels partners to expand the range of family support initiatives. We are also exploring potential avenues to strengthen the university's connection in terms of education and research, including internships, bachelor's and master's theses, and the contribution of academic expertise on topics such as multilingualism, health, upbringing, and more. We are only at the beginning of many fruitful collaborations in the future."

For more information about the necessity of these reforms, please refer to our press release.