Mariëlle Bruning: Swift action needed for failing youth services system
On 1 January 2021, a major youth care centre in the Dutch province Zeeland will close its doors. It is responsible for implementing child protection measures. As a result, it is likely that the care for around 1100 children will come under threat. Vulnerable children will face changes to the authorities and will not know where to turn for help.
These problems in Zeeland are no isolated incident. In 2015, the responsibility for youth care in the Netherlands was decentralised. It was believed that the municipalities would be able to provide better care at the local level. At the same time, however, the government made major cutbacks to the funding for the municipalities.
This has not benefited youth services, says Mariëlle Bruning , Professor of Children and the Law, in Dutch news programme NOS Journaal. 'The system is currently failing and as a society we cannot accept this. The alarm has sounded. Something needs to be done now – ahead of next year’s government formation – for children requiring the highest level of care.'
The alarm was already sounded last year by the Inspectorate for Youth Care, says Bruning. 'But because of the coronavirus, it seems that attention has slipped for this group of children and vulnerable parents. There are too many reports with grim conclusions that the youth care system is failing. This is far from satisfactory.'