Municipalities using youth care money to fill other gaps: report
Municipalities in the Netherlands are using part of 1.3 billion euros extra dedicated to youth care to stop other gaps in the budget, many of which arose due to high youth care costs, NOS reports after surveying the 352 municipalities.
More than half of the municipalities responded to the NOS survey. A third said they're spending only part of the extra money they'll receive on youth care. One municipality is investing in a cultural center. One said some money would go towards road maintenance. Several said they would use the money for the Social Support Act. About 3 percent said they would only use the funds on youth care.
According to NOS, the municipalities can use the money for other things as the Cabinet did not specifically earmark it. Caretaker State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health told the broadcaster that the budget can be used for other social goals, "certainly because municipalities have spent more on youth care for years."
Almost all the municipalities told NOS that structural funds are needed to change youth care fundamentally. "The concept of 'extra money' is incorrect and therefore a frame," the municipality of Venlo said. "That implies that there is 'additional money.' That is not the case. It is an incidental compensation." After 2022, the extra budget for youth care will decrease again, while the number of kids and teenagers who need help only rises.
Youth Care Netherlands told NOS that it was worried this extra budget would end up in other places. The organization agreed that more and structural money is needed. "Municipalities must then show they are also making good use of that money," a spokesperson said. "Vulnerable children and their families have to wait more often and longer for the right help. That should be the priority for municipalities.