In the first half of 2019, the number of young Dutch people in youth care grew again, according to figures from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Thursday. In the first six months of 2019, 366,000 young people up to the age of 23 received youth care, which amounts to nearly 1 in 12 young people.
The number of young people receiving youth care has risen in the last four years. 319,000 young people received youth care in 2015, compared to 366,000 in the first half of 2019. This number can still grow, since in the previous years the final figures were about 5 percent higher than the preliminary results.
Youth care includes youth assistance, youth protection and youth rehabilitation. Youth care shows that the duration of care has also increased. In 2015 youth care youth received an average of 233 days of care, in the first half of 2019 this number increased to 346 days.
The average duration of youth protection actually decreased in the first six months of 2019 from 1,035 days to 870 days. The duration of juvenile rehabilitation also fell from 427 days in 2015 to an average of 308 days in the first half of this year.
In the northeast of the Netherlands and the middle of Limburg, more than 13 percent of young people receive youth assistance. This percentage is lower in other parts of the Netherlands. This may be explained by the social and economic circumstances or policy choices of municipalities, but the CBS cannot give a definitive answer about this.
In 2015, youth care was transferred by the government to the municipalities and cuts were made. Since then, the sector has had to deal with increasing problems. In September, youth care staff went on strike for the first time in history.
For example, the waiting lists in youth care have become considerably longer. Even the urgent problem cases have to wait weeks or even months before it is their turn. Moreover, many employees complain that they have no room or time to provide really good care. They only state that they can combat symptoms.
Various organizations, including the children’s ombudsman, sounded the alarm bell. Due to long waiting lists and the high workload, vulnerable children no longer get the help they need, according to the pediatric ombudsman. The causes include the increase in the number of single-parent families and divorces, as well as the performance pressure that many children suffer from.
Employees and employers reached an agreement in October on a new collective labor agreement for youth care. Part of the agreements includes a wage increase of 4 percent from January 2020.
The parties have also decided to discuss measures that are not covered by the collective labor agreement, such as reducing the workload. This consultation at the so-called ‘labor market table’ is facilitated by the Ministry of Health. Jeugdzorg Nederland hopes that the municipalities that finance youth care will also be involved in this consultation.