Ministries and VNG set out scenario for the future of child and family protection
As far as the Ministries of Justice and Security and of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) are concerned, the Dutch youth protection system will look different in the future. The scenario they have sent to the House of Representatives describes how child and family protection could be reorganised in 5 to 10 years’ time in such a way that vulnerable children and families will receive appropriate help and protection much more quickly.
The parties have identified a number of structural problems in the way the youth protection system is currently organised. One example is the poor communication between the many organisations that are involved with the children and families.
As a consequence, children and families encounter a multitude of professionals, which sometimes means that they have to tell their story over and over again. As so many organisations are involved, children and families often have to wait a long time for timely protection and help. This can exacerbate problems and create unsafe situations. In addition, the ministries and the VNG have come across too many situations in which only the child was examined and not the underlying problems in the family, such as psychiatric problems, debts, addiction or complex divorce cases.
A familiar face
In the future, the ministries and the VNG want children and families to be supported by a local team that is able to quickly provide appropriate support. Such a team will feature a familiar face as a point of contact, so children and families will not have to tell their story over and over again.
The local team will be in contact with a regional safety team, which will bring together the roles and safety tasks of Certified Institutions, Safe at Home and the Care and Protection Board. This team will have the necessary expertise to deal with safety issues. The professionals and families will be closely supported by a network of specialists with expertise in problems that affect both children and adults and in specific types of violence.
In this way, help can be offered more quickly, and the situation of children and families will not escalate unnecessarily. In addition, there will no longer be an unnecessary loss of time, because children will no longer be moved from one organisation to another and from waiting list to waiting list.
The scenario sketches a picture of the future and is not yet a detailed plan. There are still dilemmas and questions to be answered. From April onwards, all relevant parties, including clients and peer advisers, will be able to participate in a consultation process. The results will be sent to the House of Representatives in the autumn.