Last Tuesday, September 19, 2023 was Budget Day. This year it was a different Budget Day than other years. The government has fallen, while choices now have to be made in tackling problems in, for example, healthcare, climate change and the labor market. The government announced a number of measures to improve youth care and the Budget Memorandum plan for the coming year.
Here are the relevant changes for youth care:
Improving access to youth care: The government wants to ensure that children and young people have quicker and easier access to the right help. This is done by shortening waiting lists for youth care and by providing more preventive support.
Improving the quality of youth care: The government wants to ensure that youth care is of high quality and that children and young people receive the help they need. This is done by investing in education and training of youth care workers and by conducting more research into effective youth care.
Improving cooperation between the various youth care providers: The government wants to ensure that children and young people receive the right care, regardless of where they live. This is done by improving cooperation between the various youth care providers.
The specific measures announced by the government are the following:
Reducing waiting lists: The government wants to reduce waiting lists for youth care by 50%. This is done by investing more money in youth care and by improving cooperation between the various youth care providers.
More preventive support: The government wants to provide more preventive support to children and young people. This is done by investing in early detection and by paying more attention to the social and emotional development of children. The VWS budget states that €13.9 million will be made available in 2024 to provide subsidies to promote the quality, accessibility and affordability of the curative mental health care.
Invest in training and education: The government wants to invest in training and education of youth care workers. This is done by investing more money in the training of youth care workers and by offering more opportunities for further training.
Investing in research: The government wants to invest in research into effective youth care. This is done by investing more money in research into the effects of different types of youth care.
Improvement of cooperation: The government wants to improve cooperation between the various youth care providers. This is done by investing in information exchange and by working on a shared vision on youth care.
Youth reform agenda for accessible youth care
Youth care is still under pressure. We are therefore pleased that the Youth Reform Agenda is explicitly addressed in the cabinet's plans and has been declared non-controversial. In the The government has made agreements with municipalities, providers, healthcare professionals and clients. They want youth care to suit children and young people, to remain affordable and to be available to the most vulnerable young people who need it. This is done by, among other things:
better organize specialist care for the most vulnerable children;
make clear choices about the scope of youth care;
to work even more and better in a district-oriented manner, so that families are offered help and support in a clear manner.
The government is making an additional €1.45 billion available for youth care on an incidental basis by 2024. The government assumes that municipalities will focus on savings measures amounting to € 374 million on youth care expenditure in 2024. It is good to read that the additional savings of € 100 million from the coalition agreement on the Youth Reform Agenda for 2024 have been canceled .
The measures announced by the government are an important step towards better youth care. However, it is still too early to say whether these measures will actually lead to an improvement in youth care.