Health Ministers to change youth care so child's needs always come first

(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)(Photo: Ranveig/Dodo / Wikimedia Commons)

Ministers Hugo de Jonge of Public Health and Sander Dekker of Medical Care presented an action plan to improve youth care in the Netherlands. "The interests of the child are still too often not the first priority", the Ministers said, NOS reports.

The Youth Care Action Plan was drawn up in collaboration with mental health service GGZ Nederland. It contains a number of measures. Such as that all children who are at risk of derailing or being moved from their homes must receive a voluntary mentor to stand by them. This can be a neighbor or aunt or uncle the child trusts. It can also be a professional. "But preferably someone from the child's social network or an experience expert."

The Ministers want to increase the age for foster are from 18 to 21 years. They consider 18 to be too young for a child to suddenly have to stand on their own feet. "We want to give every child who can no longer live at home a childhood that resembles a family as much as possible, and in the network of the original family as much as possible." 

Ideally the Ministers want more children to be able to grow up with their own families, but if that is impossible, they want to make sure that the child is not moved from foster family to foster family. "Every child needs stability. We want to ensure that the child is displaced as little as possible when he or she can no longer live at home."

De Jonge and Dekker also plan on banning juvenile institutions from placing children and young people in separation or isolation, according to RTL Nieuws. Juvenile institutions place children in isolation in emergency situations, when the care provider sees no other way of protecting the child and those around him or her. The child is then placed in a locked and bare room, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes as long as overnight. "It is too traumatic", De Jonge said, according to the broadcaster. 

The Ministers want to implement this ban in 2021. Youth Care Netherlands approves of the ban. "Because research shows that it does not help and that it is traumatic for the children", a spokesperson said to RTL. He stressed, however, that alternatives need to be found. "Care workers do not separate a youth for fun, but for their own safety and that of the group."

"With the decentralization of youth care to the municipalities, a good movement was set in motion", Minister De Jonge said, according to NOS. "But children, parents and employees have not noticed enough of this and sometimes still run into problems. The work is not finished yet. I am therefore proud of this ambitious program that is now in place." 

A special support team will be established to support and advise municipalities on youth care. 

"The interests of young people is clearly a priority for everyone", Minister Dekker said. "I find it good to see that we are working together emphatically in this program: the justice chain, the care side, the central government, municipalities and institutions. The end goal is that no young person will be left in the cold."

In 2017 a total of 392,445 children in the Netherlands made use of some form of youth care. The government set a total of 108 million euros aside to give youth aid a boost in the coming years.