Very little stability for kids in youth care after custodial placement
Children in youth care have very little stability after a custodial placement. Three-quarters of them move an average of four times within the system after being placed out of their parents' home. A third of them only heard about the move the day, or even a few hours before they had to go, foundation Het Vergeten Kind Found in a study, AD reports.
A lack of ability and clarity about where they're going to grow up is very harmful to children, the foundation stressed. Children affected by this do less well at school, more often lose contact with people important to them, have more trouble trusting others, more often feel unwanted, have a harder time forming attachments, and more often have behavioral problems. Children also say they struggle to get used to a new place, often with new rules and new people to get to know.
Lotte, 12, has moved 11 times. "Due to the moving, I don't believe that I will keep living here, even though I've lived here for seven years," she said to the researchers. Dounia, 19, feels "let down" after seven relocations. Vince, after six relocations, told the researchers: "I'm not good enough." Children who don't mind the relocations are in the minority.
Despite this, the youth care system is set up in such a way that moving is almost a necessity. Housing facilities are set up according to age and stage of life. If you grow older than that, you move on. In an emergency placement, children first go to a crisis location, where they often have to wait a long time for an appropriate place to stay due to long waiting lists. Children are also relocated because they don't fit, for example, because they need more care. This puts them at risk of more problems, making it more difficult o find a suitable place.
Het Vergeten Kind talked to 118 children in the youth care system. The foundation did the study itself because the government failed to provide national figures, despite the Ministry of Public Health promising in 2019 to provide insight into how often children in youth care are relocated. The foundation denounced the Ministry's negligence in this. The number of relocations must be monitored so that improvements can be made, director Margot Ende-van den Broek said. "If we do it right the first time, children will benefit for the rest of their lives."
Het Vergeten Kind advocated for making places of residence independent of treatment or a child's issues. Municipalities should also pay a fixed amount for "residential care" instead of paying per bed that is slept in, the foundation said.