Tuesday 10 December 2019

Youth care workers hold protest to highlight funding gap ‘crisis’

More than 2,500 youth support workers are staging a demonstration in The Hague on Monday calling on the government to provide extra funding and reduce their administrative burden.

Protesters held up boards with the names of children and teenagers who are missing out on essential support because of the pressure on the sector. Health minister Hugo de Jonge has already rejected a plea by unions to provide €750 million extra to address the problem.

Youth worker Niekie Warnaar told RTV Rijnmond that urgent cases were being held up because of a lack of funding. ‘To cite one glaring example: a 15-year-old homeless girl who I can’t find a bed for the night because of all the bureaucratic wrangling.’

Responsibility for youth care was devolved from central government to the municipalities in 2015. The government also said the total care bill needed to be cut by €450 million, even after the transfer caused administrative problems such as waiting lists and delayed payments.

The FNV union says the switch has led to a ‘race to the bottom’ as councils try to buy in care on the cheap, while waiting lists increase and children and their parents receive inadequate services.

Vice-chair Kitty Jong said: ‘Many youth care providers are at breaking point or leaving the sector. It is a crisis that is on the verge of becoming a tragedy.’

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