Joyce – now 21 – was sent from pillar to post for years. She was a psychological wreck: had eating disorders and depression. Her puberty was hell and she desperately needed good youth care. But it didn’t come for a long time. “Because the help lasted so long and no one could really help, it only got worse,” she tells RTL Nieuws.
She eventually ended up in a closed institution. “I was among aggressive young people and it just got worse and worse,” she says in this video.
Joyce’s story is no exception. “Youth care is broken”, State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen concluded last week.
Since 2015, the municipalities have been responsible for youth care. The idea was that it would make it cheaper, but it didn’t. Costs rose explosively (to 5.6 billion last year). Nearly 1 in 7 children receives youth care.
The government has therefore launched a large package of improvements. For example, young people with complex problems such as depression and eating disorders should receive the care they need again, says State Secretary Van Ooijen.
This aim is unanimously shared by the MPs. “The complex care cases have to be put back on top of the pile,” says VVD MP Daan de Neef.
GroenLinks MP Lisa Westerveld agrees. She says she has ‘tummy ache’ from all those stories and therefore wants the system to be overhauled. “We should have started that years ago,” she says. “With all those cutbacks, I am afraid that none of these ambitions will come true.”
Because in addition to new plans, a cut of millions is also in the air. The cabinet will take on this cut (structural 511 million euros). This is offset by the possible introduction of a personal contribution for lighter care.
Today, that plan is provoking much opposition. “How do we get that own contribution off the table?” said PvdA party leader Attje Kuiken in the debate. She calls the plan ‘oil stupid’. “A personal contribution affects everyone”, said Peter Kwint of the SP. “It is a brutal cutback. How can we justify that?”
The government parties are also critical, but want to await the investigation into a possible personal contribution first. The cabinet will return to this in the autumn.
The cabinet also wants to thwart healthcare providers who cash in on substantial profits. Especially providers of lighter forms of youth care (think of dyslexia or exam stress) are springing up like mushrooms and companies often make huge profits.
Complex treatments, on the other hand, are expensive for healthcare providers and are therefore offered relatively infrequently. That is why young people like Joyce end up on long waiting lists. She has now received good treatment and is studying. “I’m slowly getting better.”