The Netherlands is a densely populated country. It covers a small geographical area (41.543 km²), bordering the North Sea in the West, Germany in the East and Belgium in the South, and accommodates a population of around 17 million people. Most people live in the west of the Netherlands in the ‘Randstad’, an area between the four major cities Amsterdam (capital), The Hague (seat of Government), Rotterdam and Utrecht. The Caribbean islands of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba are part of the Netherlands as special municipalities (since October 2010). Governance is shared between the national level, the provincial level in twelve provinces and the municipalities (355, as of 1 January 2019, Statistics Netherlands). Quite a complicated governance challenge, not only in the field of youth.
Before 2015 services for youth were fragmented, financial streams differed and the system was ineffective. Reforms were needed to better streamline services and approaches and to adapt them to local needs. This led to a transition and transformation of youth services and the decentralization from national and provincial to local policy. The Dutch municipalities have been made responsible for the whole continuum of welfare, support and care for all citizens, including children, young people and families in need of help. This is a major opportunity for transforming policies and services towards integrated approaches. The decentralization is high on the agenda and is permanently monitored, to see how the system works to benefit all children and young people in the Netherlands.