Kortrijk is a medium-sized town of 75,000 inhabitants in the south of the Belgian province of West Flanders. The town lies 25 km north-east of the French city of Lille, with which it forms a transnational eurodistrict — the French-Belgian Lille–Kortrijk–Tournai eurometropolis, which has a population of approximately 2.1 million. Flanders (including Brussels) has 7.4 million inhabitants and a population density of 462 inhabitants per square kilometre (excluding Brussels). Flanders is a highly developed region in economic terms, with a generous welfare system. The employment rate in Flanders was 63.7 percent in 2014, putting it above the Belgian average of 62 percent, but below the EU28 average of 67.5 percent. The Flemish unemployment rate (5.0 percent in 2014) is considerably below the averages for the EU28 (9.0 percent) and Belgium (7.9 percent). The region boasts good coverage in terms of public and private childcare services, and the main provider is the public sector. Although many cities have a reputation for high-quality management, the public offer does not fully meet demand for childcare services. The local government and childcare organisations support the creation of networks and activities to promote work-life balance, as well as experimental and innovative forms of social organisation targeting family needs.

The De Stuyverij CityLab is developing bottom-up approaches to reinforce local communities. Participants are typically middle-class and working-class citizens, for whom saving money is an important incentive, in addition to networking and socialisation. The Cokido approach developed by the CityLab, in which parents take turns to ensure after-school childcare, is regarded as a positive social innovation by many organisations (www.cokido.org).

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