Young people often kept unnecessarily in closed care institutions
Children and teenagers in closed youth care institutions who are ready for more freedom regularly have to wait a long time before they can move on to the next stage of their care. There are not enough places where these kids can be helped further, and the waiting lists are long, NU.nl reports after speaking with experts, interest groups, and youth care institutions.
Closed youth care is intended for kids who are a danger to themselves or others at the time. Children in closed youth care are not allowed to go outside on their own and can be locked in their rooms. Last year, about 1,800 kids received care in a closed institution. A judge must always give permission before a child is admitted to such an institution.
Children almost always need further help when they are ready to leave the closed institution. Some can move back home with support, but more often, they need a place to stay, such as a small-scale residential facility or a mental health clinic. But the waiting times for these forms of youth care are very long, and sometimes there is no appropriate follow-up care available in the region at all, according to the newspaper.
"Children should be in closed youth care for as short a time as possible. Due to a shortage of follow-up care and long waiting lists, this is often not the case," family and juvenile lawyer Maria de Jong said to NU.n. "Certainly after six months, closed youth care has more negative than positive effects for almost all young people."
According to De Jong, the main reason for judges to extend a child's stay in closed youth care is "a lack of suitable treatment places." "The poignant thing about judges' rulings about extensions is that you often read in the ruling how harmful a stay in closed youth care can be. The children become very aggressive or depressed precisely because of how closed it is."
The youth care institutions NU.nl spoke to all said that they try to offer the kids in their care as much perspective as possible about when they'll be able to leave closed youth care, even if it is difficult to find a follow-up place for them.