Children’s Rights at the municipal level: access to (social) justice in voluntary Youth Care, The Netherlands
The research project addresses the question how complaints in the voluntary youth care system are dealt with on the municipal level and what role (municipal) Children’s Ombudspersons play in this context, through qualitative research methods.
The goal of the 2015 Youth Law Act is to bring youth care closer to the citizens by decentralizing the youth care system to the municipal level. The legal position of parents, children and adolescents should therefore be guaranteed at that same local level. Research shows that municipalities differ in their approach, and that it is not always clear where parents, children and adolescents can lay down their complaints about youth care. Moreover, the ‘routes’ identified in the Youth Law Act, an appeal procedure, a complaints procedure and disciplinary law, are considered to be often unsuitable for solving conflicts in youth care. At the same time, both on the national and the local level, the Children’s Ombudsman, has given rise to the creation of a new ‘route’ for complaints where citizens can complain about violations of children’s rights and how both public and private actors act towards children and adolescents.
The goal of this research is to map out the routes, bottlenecks and best practices in day to day dealing with complaints in voluntary youth care in Dutch municipalities. This analysis will gather insights for improvement of the conflict resolution in voluntary youth care on the municipal level.