Waiting times of up to a year for court imposed youth therapy

Young people who are ordered by the juvenile court to undergo therapy face waiting times of up to one year before their therapy can start, the Volkskrant reports based on its own research. 

In May a study done by MediQuest showed that the waiting times at 45 percent of mental health institutions in the Netherlands are too long, especially in youth care. Children and teens with anxiety disorders, depression or other mental health problems wait an average of six weeks for an intake interview, while the rules state that this should not be longer than four weeks. According to the newspaper, this is also true for young people who were ordered into therapy by the court, for example for drug use or to learn to cope with aggression.

The Public Prosecutor acknowledges the problem. "After the summer, the youth rehabilitation, the Child Protection Council and the Public Prosecutor will talk to the municipalities about the offer of youth care and the needs of the criminal justice chain", a spokesperson said to the Volkskrant. "Many parties are working on it. If the judge imposes a therapy, it is clearly necessary and it must happen. The municipalities have to arrange that."

According to the association of Dutch municipalities VNG, the waiting times are partly due to the fact that the youth courts don't always know which youth institutions municipalities have contacts with and are not aware of waiting lists for particular treatments. "The problem is more in the complexity of the new youth care system than in the bureaucracy of municipalities", a spokesperson said to the newspaper. The VNG will discuss this with the judiciary. Municipalities took over responsibility for youth care in 2015.