Vulnerable children still not adequately protected news item

news item | 2022-05-13 | 17:00

The Youth Protection chain is still struggling with very long waiting lists. Staff shortage is the main reason. Children and young people on the waiting list remain in unsafe situations for too long and are exposed to further harm, and their problems are exacerbated. Actions taken since 2019 have provided temporary and local relief. But they do not offer a long-term solution. “Emergency dams have been built, but they are showing cracks again.”

This was written by the Health and Youth Welfare Inspectorate and the Justice and Security Inspectorate. The Inspectorate addresses Minister Weerwind (Legal Protection) and Minister of State Van Ooijen (VWS) about the situation; They are responsible for the youth protection system. But also the municipalities that should buy quality youth care and youth protection and be responsible for the safe home.

Early in 2019, inspection bodies found that the government was not doing enough to protect children whose development is threatened by being in unsafe situations.

Inspections provide scope for unconventional businesses to find solutions. However, it must be clear in advance that these solutions will result in good and timely assistance and protection for children and young people who need them.

I tried many times

Municipalities have done a lot since 2019 trying to make a breakthrough. Together with parties such as Veilig Thuis, the Child Protection Board, youth protection organizations and Juvenile Watch Enforcement. For example, with extra money, better collaboration, agreements about what to prioritize and less red tape. But the queues are very long. This is mainly due to staff shortages (vacancies, absenteeism) and a higher demand for youth care and youth protection compared to the care purchased by municipalities.

Total waiting lists

Children, young adults and families can be put on a waiting list at different times.

  • With the neighborhood team if they want to voluntarily accept a youth sponsorship offer.
  • At Safe at Home if it should evaluate a report and then conduct an investigation.
  • on the Child Protection Council.
  • In an approved youth protection and probation institution, which must carry out a youth protection measure or juvenile probation order ordered by a judge.
  • When looking for and starting a social worker who provides actual care, especially in specialized youth care.

If all goes within legal conditions, without waiting lists, it will take at least 32 weeks after the first notification before the child, young person or family actually receives help and protection if all these steps are completed. But due to waiting lists at different times, this can increase significantly, to additional weeks or even several months.

safe home
Home security is legally required to assess the report within five days. There are 26 Safe at Home organizations in the Netherlands, and there are numbers for 24 organizations. Only 11 Safe at Home organizations were able to meet the five-day deadline for 80 percent of the reports.
After evaluating the report, Safe at Home conducts an investigation. The legal period for this is ten weeks. No organization meets this standard.

Child Protection Council
The Child Protection Board uses the standard to start an investigation within ten days. But at the beginning of January, the average waiting time was five weeks. On January 1, there were 4,284 children on a waiting list for protection research, adoption, truancy, criminal investigation, custody and access. This is more than a thousand children more than in 2019. The problem has thus worsened since 2019, despite all efforts to improve the situation.
Eight weeks are allowed for Child Protection Board participation.

Youth protection institutions, juvenile monitoring and start-up care
Accredited institutions for youth protection and probation in the Netherlands must bind the child, young person or family to a permanent youth protector within five days of the juvenile court judge’s decision. Then he goes to work with the family. There should also be an action plan to help out within six weeks. Many organizations fail to do so because there are too few structurally skilled young custodians. Actual help should then begin within six weeks. But there are also special waiting lists in specialized youth care for complex problems.

Inspection departments see good examples of young mother-in-law who “color outside the lines”. They maintain extensive contact with families as long as the intended help is not yet available, or they supervise children’s interaction with their parents. But the inspection bodies do not see such examples as a long-term solution.

picture: JenV . inspection

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