Youth care organizations struggle to send youth protectors to children on time
Staff shortages are affecting youth care organizations in the Netherlands, with direct repercussions for children. Around nine in 14 organizations are no longer able to assign a youth protector to a vulnerable child in a timely manner, according to RTL Nieuws.
This includes children in unsafe home situations, ranging from domestic abuse to messy divorces to parents with addiction problems. After a judge determines a supervision order must be placed, children must be assigned to a youth care protector within five days. However, many youth care organizations are struggling or no longer able to meet this requirement.
At Youth Protection Rotterdam Rijnmond, the wait time is up to 60 days, for example. Meanwhile, Youth Protection Brabant is only able to visit around half of its assigned children within the five-day window. Both organizations have to make the decision about which children will be visited first, they said.
"We prefer to help all children immediately. Unfortunately, due to the shortage of employees, the matters that are the least urgent will be dealt with later," Rinda den Besten of Youth Protection Brabant told RTL Nieuws.
Even institutions that are able to make the five-day window say they are "under pressure" and that employees are doubling up on the number of cases. The organizations cite the difficult job market: more staff have left in recent months than have been replaced.
The government is currently working on an incentive scheme to get more youth care workers, according to RTL Nieuws. But the Ministry of Justice and Security stressed that this is also a problem for municipalities to deal with.
"When it comes to vulnerable children, it is so very important that there is a permanent youth protector," said Arina Kruithof, director of Youth Protection Rotterdam Rijnmond and Youth Care Netherlands. "That a child can call someone where he can express his concerns."