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Research ‘Involuntary (after) care for vulnerable young adults?' presented to the Parliament

On Monday November 7th the research outcome ‘Involuntary (after) care for vulnerable young adults? A study to the legal possibilities for the provision of (involuntary) care to vulnerable young adults after child protection’ was presented to the members of the Parliament.

This research was conducted by Mariëlle Bruning, Ton Liefaard, Manuela Limbeek and Mariëlle Bahlmann from the Child law department of Leiden University, commissioned by the Scientific Documentation and Research Centre (WODC). Here you find the research outcome (in Dutch).

This research focused on the current legal framework on (compulsory) care for vulnerable young adults between the ages of 18 to 23 and will also look at the kind of possibilities this framework offers to support or treat these vulnerable young adults with a history in the child protection system, when they reach adulthood. Furthermore, this research investigates whether the current legal framework, on compulsory care for young adults, may be in need of revision.

The overall conclusion of this research is that the current legal framework barely offers any possibilities to force vulnerable young adults, who have dealt with child protection measure(s), to accept the care they need after reaching the age of 18. It further appears that there is a clear dissatisfaction about the current legal framework and its application in practice. Nevertheless, the research shows that there has been poorly written about the application of the legal framework and its use in practice. Despite the dissatisfaction, interviews with experts on this field did not provide any precise information about practical experiences with the legal framework. The experts were not able to give much insight into their experience with the law and regulations, the aspects that work well in practice and the specific aspects that might be in need of revision.

The researchers recommend to search for alternatives within the existing legal framework: for example the combination of mentorship with a conditional court order under the Wet Bopz or the appointment of the family supervisor/youth protector as mentor (when the child protection measure ends). Finally, the researchers point towards several additional mindsets. First, it is of major importance to gain more knowledge of the group of young adults. Therefore thorough research must be conducted. In the second place, the vulnerable position of young adults in the transition from minority to adulthood cannot be improved in compulsory care without any significant modifications to the Dutch law and regulations. In that context, there should also be paid attention to the obligations rising from international law. The most important mindset is therefore in relation to the optimization of the framework in voluntary care. Within the voluntary framework, improvements should be developed to secure the possibility to (after)care for vulnerable young adults.

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