The Painful Problem with Children Outside the Home: Six Questions

1. First there were 1115 children and now there are 1675. How is that possible?

The Central Statistical Bureau (CBS) has calculated that the victims of the benefit case have a total of 59,805 children.

The new figure for the number of people thrown in that group is now higher. This is because Statistics Netherlands previously only used data from 2015 to 2020. Now the period has become a little longer, from 2015 to 2021.

Meanwhile, more victims have also reported, so the total number of children also increased.

It is still possible that these figures are also incomplete. These figures only include children who have been removed from the home by the judge’s intervention, but it also happens without the judge’s involvement. And they are not included.

2,675 children, that seems like a large number. Is it true?

Researchers can not say yet. It is not clear whether the number of detention placements in families affected by the unemployment benefit affair is significantly higher compared to other families.

“The published figures do not provide insight into a possible connection between the deprivation of liberty and the unemployment benefit affair, Statistics Netherlands has not investigated the reasons for the deprivation of liberty,” CBS writes about this.

3. Why is it so hard to say?

The fact that a victim’s child is placed outside the home as a result of the unemployment benefit relationship does not have to be a consequence of the relationship. There could have been problems in the family for a long time. Problems may also have arisen after the unemployment benefit affair, but not as a result.

4. So how do they find out?

The Judicial and Security Inspectorate will investigate the youth protection system, which is responsible for placements outside the home. The Authority is looking at possible reasons why victims of the benefit case should relate to child protection measures.

They do this by looking at the characteristics of the affected families, for example whether there was inequality in opportunities. The youth protection is also examined, for example whether it has previously been placed outside the home for victims of the benefit relationship. And what was the reason for the custody – whether, for example, it was mainly related to debt incurred as a result of the relationship. But this study can take years.

In the meantime, Statistics Netherlands will also in the coming months investigate whether the number of detention placements is higher among victims of the benefit case than among other families.

And it will be investigated how children can go home again and how often it succeeds. That research is being conducted by WODC, part of the Department of Justice and Security. But there are also no short-term results there, because that research will probably start only at the end of this year.

5. When will there be clarity?

So that’s the question. The Cabinet takes the time to examine the whole thing thoroughly, but it does not help the families at the moment. It is therefore not certain that all pre-trial detention placements are the result of the unemployment benefit scandal. But that does not mean that it has nothing to do with it. The question is whether these studies will provide more clarity because much of the information is privacy sensitive. So it gets complicated to assemble all the puzzle pieces.

6. How many of the 1,675 children now live at home again?

It is hard. Of the 1,675 children who have been removed from their homes since 2015, 555 still did not live with their parents or guardians by the end of 2021. But that does not mean that the other children will stay at home again. Or as the Minister writes to the Folketing: “Unfortunately, there are currently no figures for how often children are placed back with their parents after a placement outside the home.”

parliamentary debate

The Folketing talks to Prime Minister Rutte and Minister Weerwind about the supplementary case from 12 o’clock. Follow the debate live on this page and app.

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