Dutch Government pledges increased support for vulnerable young people

Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Hugo de Jonge and Minister for Legal Protection Sander Dekker have mapped out a comprehensive approach to improve youth assistance, youth protection and youth rehabilitation. Every child removed from their parental home will be assigned their own mentor and all young people in youth care will develop a plan setting out their future after the age of 18. In addition, foster care will be extended to the age of 21 as standard, children whose development is at risk will receive more effective protection at an earlier stage and the seclusion of young people in secure youth care will be abolished.

All of the above measures and more are set out in the ‘Caring for Young People’ programme, which the ministers recently submitted to the Dutch House of Representatives. The underlying principle is that greater focus should be placed on the child’s interests in the provision of youth assistance services. This means appropriate assistance at an earlier stage, allowing children to grow up at home as far as possible and more supervision in preparing young people for independent lives as adults. Waiting lists will also be tackled.

Minister De Jonge said: ‘The decentralisation of youth care to the municipalities marked the launch of a good initiative. However, this has had little impact so far on children, parents and staff who still are facing problems. Our task has not yet been accomplished. That’s why I’m proud of the ambitious programme we have now set out.’

Minister Dekker said: ’Young peoples’ interests clearly are a priority for all parties. I am delighted that we have explicitly joined forces in this programme: the parties in the justice chain, the care sector, central government, municipalities and institutions, with the ultimate goal of leaving not a single youth out in the cold.’

The government will implement this programme together with the municipalities, care providers and client organisations. We have made available a total of €108 million to foster the transformation of youth care in the years head. The various youth care regions (i.e. the regional youth care coordinating bodies) are required to produce a three-year plan to be eligible for a contribution from the transformation fund. In addition, municipalities facing deficits may make use of a €200 million fund. A special support team will support and advise municipalities.

The latest figures published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) show that 392,445 children were using or used some form of youth assistance in 2017. The year-end 2017 figures also indicate that 30,715 children were protected under a youth protection measure and that 6,360 young people received supervision as part of youth rehabilitation services.