Youth care reform stalled, municipalities see costs only rising

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Youth protectors are campaigning at the House of Representatives
NOS News

It was one of the municipalities that managed to keep the costs of youth care within budget, but Utrecht also says it now expects a deficit of 7.2 million euros this year. The college warns in a letter to the city council that Utrecht children and families who appeal to youth assistance will notice the consequences of this, including longer waiting lists.

It is a crisis in youth care. That is why there has been talk of adjusting the system since 2021. An important question is: should limits be set on which care needs should and should not fall under youth care? By dropping lighter care, more money remains for more serious problems.

But the talks between the Ministry of Health (VWS), the municipalities, healthcare providers, client organizations and professionals are not progressing smoothly. The Association of Netherlands Municipalities and the Ministry of Health are arguing over who bears the risk of future budget overruns. Will that bill lie with the State or the municipality?

The Senate had asked State Secretary Van Ooijen (Youth Care) to provide an update on the negotiations before 1 March. A spokesperson for VWS informs NOS that the negotiations have not collapsed, but that they are not over yet either.

Youth assistance obligation

Since 2015, the municipalities have been responsible for youth care. This varies from help with parenting problems or dyslexia to complex care for serious mental problems or placements in out-of-home care. Municipalities receive money for this from the central government, but are constantly confronted with budget cuts. In anticipation of the reform, a cut of 374 million euros has already been included in the coalition agreement.

But in the meantime, the costs for youth care at the municipalities are only increasing. The current Youth Act states that municipalities have a duty to provide youth care and support. One in ten young people up to the age of 22 now receives some form of youth assistance. The handling also takes more time because the requests for help are becoming increasingly complex.

At the end of last year, the municipality of The Hague already sounded the alarm. In 2022, the municipalities had to spend an extra 60 million euros on youth care.

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