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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Netherlands

Netherlands

1. Youth Policy Governance

1.2 National youth law

On this page
  1. Existence of a National Youth Law
  2. Scope and contents
  3. Revisions/updates

Existence of a National Youth Law

One law for all types of youth care

The Child and Youth Act (2015) regulates how youth care should be addressed at the local level. It is a parliament’s bill approved on the 1st of March . The act regulates the municipal responsibility for prevention, support, help and care for youth and their parents regarding growing up, parenting, youth mental health problems and disorders, child protection and youth probation. The Child and Youth Act came into effect on the 1st of January 2015. It is the successor of the Youth Care Act (2005-2014) and it incorporates regulations that previously were integrated in other laws. Through the Child and Youth Act national and provincial responsibilities have been transferred to the municipal level. There is no specific period of time the act will cover. In paragraph 1.3 more information is given about the decentralization and the accompanying transformation of all support and care for children, youth and families for which the Child and Youth Act provides the legal basis.

Different laws concerning Dutch youth

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child forms the basis for all rules and regulations concerning youth in the Netherlands. The needs and rights of young Dutch people are addressed in different laws and the governance responsibility has been decentralized mostly since 2015. There is not one encompassing law, but there are nine relevant laws:

Local responsibilities

National responsibilities

Responsibilities of health insurance companies and care administration offices

  • Treatment of physical and sensory illness and disabilities; Health Insurance Act (2005).
  • Long-term care for citizens with mental disabilities, physical illness or disabilities and/or sensory disabilities who are in need of 24/7 care or supervision; Act on Long-term Care (2014).

Scope and contents

Services

The municipalities now steer a wide range of services for children and families, ranging from universal and preventive services to the specialized (both voluntary and compulsory) care for children and young people between 0 and 18 years. Also social services are now part of the responsibility of local municipalities with the view towards further integrated approaches.

 

Revisions/updates

Evaluations of the Child and Youth Act

According to article 12.2 of the Child and Youth Act (2015), in 2018 the Ministers involved had to send to Dutch Parliament a report about the effectiveness and effects of the act in practice. This first evaluation of the Child and Youth Act showed that since the act came into force most changes made could be characterized as transition, as both legal and financial structures had been transferred to the local level. By January 2018 the act’s transformation goals still had to be achieved for the most part. The evaluation report stated that more time is needed to fully implement the act. In 2020 the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau) drew similar conclusions. According to the institute, the decentralization’s and transformation’s expected outcomes had not been fulfilled yet (see also paragraph 1.3).

Paragraph 1.3 describes the decentralization and transformation that are regulated in the Child and Youth Act.

 

Evaluations of the Child and Youth Act

According to article 12.2 of the Child and Youth Act (2015), in 2018 the Ministers involved had to send to Dutch Parliament a report about the effectiveness and effects of the act in practice. This first evaluation of the Child and Youth Act showed that since the act came into force most changes made could be characterized as transition, as both legal and financial structures had been transferred to the local level. By January 2018 the act’s transformation goals still had to be achieved for the most part. The evaluation report stated that more time is needed to fully implement the act. In 2020 the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau) drew similar conclusions. According to the institute, the decentralization’s and transformation’s expected outcomes had not been fulfilled yet (see also paragraph 1.3).

Paragraph 1.3 describes the decentralization and transformation that are regulated in the Child and Youth Act.

 

Revisions of the Child and Youth Act

The tender regulations in the Child and Youth Act will be adjusted in fall 2021. During tender procedures municipalities will no longer be obliged to commission the care provider offering the lowest-priced care.

The Modification of Place of Residence Principle Act, which adapts the Child and Youth Act, will come into force on 1st January 2022. From then on the municipality in which a child or young person is registered as citizen will be financially responsible for care provided under the Child and Youth Act. In case of residential care, this will be the municipality in which the child or young person was registered immediately before receiving residential care. From 2022 on financial responsibility will no longer be based on the place of residence of the legal guardian.

Cabinet also prepares a new Improvement of Availability of Care for Youth Act that will come into effect in 2023 and will revise parts of the Child and Youth Act. Long-term cooperation between local authorities and care providers on a supraregional scale should improve the availability and continuity of specialized youth care, child protection and youth probation.

 

Expected revision in the future

Budget cuts in combination with a risen demand of youth care have set explorations about adjustments of the Child and Youth Act into motion. Since the decentralization in 2015, municipalities have experienced large gaps between their annual budgets and the costs of providing support and care for children, youth and their families. In 2020 the national government together with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten; VNG) commissioned Andersson Elffers Felix (AEF) to investigate the need for a structural additional budget for municipalities. AEF stated in its report ‘Stelsel in groei’ (System in development) that annually municipalities were 1.3 till 1.5 billion euro short on their budgets to provide all support and care under the Child and Youth Act. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 Government announced extra temporary funding for the years 2019-2022 as well as future negotiations with municipalities about long-term measures to keep the youth care system manageable.

The Steering Committee measures financial manageability Child and Youth Act (Stuurgroep maatregelen financiële beheersbaarheid Jeugdwet) has examined three scenario’s to adapt the Child and Youth Act: no change, diminishing municipalities’ obligation to provide youth care or completely removing the obligation from the Child and Youth Act. In all three scenario’s a structural larger budget for municipalities is expected to be needed. In April 2021 the State Secretary of Health, Welfare and Sport sent the steering committee’s report to Dutch Parliament, with the message that the new Cabinet should decide about adjustments to the Child and Youth Act.