1,675 children removed from parents' custody in benefits scandal
A total of 1,675 children were placed out of their parents' homes as a result of the childcare allowance scandal, NU.nl reported based on figures Statistics Netherlands (CBS) released on Wednesday. In that scandal, the Tax Authority wrongly accused thousands of parents of fraud, reclaimed their childcare allowances, and left them in financial difficulties.
This involves custodial placements linked to the scandal from 2015 to 2021, CBS said, calling it an "approximation" of the actual number of children who ended up in the system due to the Tax Authority's fraud wich hunt. In October, CBS said that 1,115 kids were removed from their parents' custody due to the scandal. That number only went up to the end of 2020. The new figure includes custodial placements in 2021.
CBS based its figures on data from youth protection and residential youth care. It does not have data on custodial placements imposed by the court. CBS compared that data to information from the Tax Authority to get an idea of the victimized parents and children. Last month, the government set up a specialized support team to help the families with possible reunification, working with the involved municipalities and youth care organizations.
The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will debate these custodial placements with the Cabinet on Thursday. A study done ahead of this debate concluded that Dutch law does not prevent kids from being taken from their homes because of their parents' financial difficulties. In the childcare allowance scandal, youth protection institutions and judges denied that custodial placements happened over financial problems. But the researchers could not rule it out.
Earlier on Wednesday, foundation Het Vergeten Kind published a study showing that kids in the youth care system have very little stability after a custodial placement. Three-quarters of them are moved to different homes an average of four times after being taken from their parents. A third said they didn't know they were being moved until a day or even hours before it happened.