A large part of the 30,000 youth care employees will be leaving work on Monday - for the first time in history. They demand that the government provide solutions to the problems that have been caused by the cuts and decentralization in recent years. What is it about and why is the urgency for the activists so high?

Youth care has been covered by municipalities since 2015.

The idea behind this central government initiative was to combat 'fragmentation'. Youth care also had to become more accessible.

Youth care includes youth assistance, as well as youth protection and youth rehabilitation for young people up to the age of 23. "In youth care, many people only see those employees putting children out of the house when there are problems, but that is an image that does not do justice to reality," says FNV director Maaike van der Aar.

Almost one in ten young people is confronted with youth care. There were 428,000 last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) concluded. Since 2000, the number of children who come into contact with youth care has been increasing. The reasons include the increase in the number of single-parent families and divorce divorces, as well as the performance pressure that many children suffer from.

The extra demand led to extra costs. That is why the Dutch municipalities often rang the bell in The Hague.

The municipalities have been in discussions with the government for years about the growing costs in youth care. If The Hague does not contribute money, the municipalities can no longer guarantee full care and assistance to young people.

The Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) warns that economies must be made (again) if extra money does not become available in the short term. The cabinet recently announced that a total of 1 billion euros more will go to youth care in the coming three years. However, this is a one-time contribution and not structural financial support. According to the FNV, this amount is not high enough to make up the deficits.

Various parties have recently pointed to the problems in youth care.

Children's ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer announced this spring that he received many signals from the field that vulnerable children no longer receive the help they do need. She pointed out to the government that the problems with youth assistance, youth protection, youth mental health care and suitable education are "getting bigger".

Kalverboer signals that the waiting lists are rapidly becoming longer. This also affects the children who need help quickly or are in a critical situation. The Ombudsman for Children also notes that the number of children being abused has not decreased significantly in recent years. She states that the problems that decentralization had to solve have only increased.

Child judges also recently sounded the alarm because of the shortage of youth care workers and the waiting lists that are growing rapidly. "We do not understand that the government continues to ignore all those signals, all those cries for help", says FNV director Van der Aar.

It is exceptional for youth care staff to put down the work.

Van der Aar points out that the willingness to strike is greater in one sector than in the other.

"Youth care workers will always choose their clients first. But that is also one of the problems of the sector. Out of loyalty, everyone goes on all the time, even when the limits have actually been reached. The gaps have been filled for a long time by yet a bit harder to walk, even when the working day is over or if there is no extra money in front of it, but that rubber band has been stretched enough, The Hague must really start to move, otherwise things will soon go very wrong and we will head off on a disaster. "

The problems in youth care fit in with a whole series of signals from society that the liberalization of all organizations is not as blissful as The Hague suggests, Van der Aar argues.

"People's own strength is being used more and more. But some groups just can't make it. The number of confused people on the street is increasing, the number of homeless people has doubled, mental health care cannot cope with work, education is struggling with a chronic shortage of manpower. It's nice that Rutte wants to give our country more prosperity. But what good is it if the well-being of so many children diminishes terribly? "

The absenteeism in youth care is increasing.

The Netherlands currently has 30,000 youth care workers, who, according to the FNV trade union, can barely cope with the work. Absenteeism and turnover in the sector are above average.

Absenteeism is 18 percent and 50 percent of all new workforce drop out within a year due to work pressure and relatively low wages. As a result, the sector is aging rapidly. Many older employees will reach their retirement age in the coming years. "So you not only lose hands, but also knowledge and collective memory," explains Van der Aar. "They are very important, certainly in this profession. A sector like this cannot only run on inexperienced people."

The real consequences will only become clear in a few years.

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.

"This means that the problems that young people are struggling with are not gone and that they will run into it in the longer term," Van der Aar explains.

One of the image problems that youth care is struggling with is that many people in the Netherlands do not have to deal with it themselves, she notes. "Everybody has to deal with issues such as care for the elderly or general practitioner care. But for many people youth care is not on the radar, because luckily they don't have to deal with it. That does not diminish the urgency of the problems that we now face. "Because in the end, the whole society will be presented with the bill if we cannot offer these young people the help they need."

See also: More children in youth care: Is something going wrong in our upbringing?


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