Children are really not taken out of the house because of a tax debt

Victims of parents in the gallery during a debate in the House of Representatives about the children who have been removed from their homes whose parents are victims of the benefit case.Statue Lex van Lieshout / ANP

I hesitated for a long time to write this letter because judges speak through their judgments and not through submitted documents. However, the debate that has been going on in the media and in politics in recent weeks shows such a creeping one-sidedness and ignorance that some refutation is necessary.

As a juvenile justice judge, I have given many authorizations for deprivation of liberty (these I have also refused), but I have never issued an authorization due to a tax debt or a conflict with the tax authorities. I have never read the word unemployment benefit parent or unemployment benefit case in a file, so I have no idea if there are children of parents who are victims of the unemployment benefit affair, among the children who have been removed from the home with my permission. And to be honest, I do not think that means much either.

Domestic violence

After all, children are only removed from the home if it is necessary for the sake of their care and upbringing. Usually there is an insecure parenting situation, caused by psychiatric or personality problems, giftedness, complex relationship problems or divorce struggles, addiction, domestic violence or a combination of these factors. And yes, sometimes there are financial issues as well, but that is the least of the worries.

Before a deprivation of liberty begins, everything has been tried – except in emergency situations – to bring the insecure parenting situation back to a reasonably acceptable level. A child will only be removed from the home if this does not lead to adequate results. A placement outside the home is always very drastic for a child, but sometimes it is really inevitable to prevent further harm to the child and to be able to work on recovery.

Parental perspective

After a placement outside the home, it is also always checked under what conditions the child can be placed back. After all, every child has the right to grow up with his or her own parents if possible. Sometimes children can be placed back after a relatively short time. Sometimes it quickly becomes clear that the child’s parenting perspective is no longer with the parents, sometimes it only becomes apparent after a long time. And at some point, the so-called acceptable period (the period within which children can still return to the family – six months for children up to 5 years and one year for children from 5 years, red.) on the picture. Incidentally, this term has never been more than a very broad guideline.

Children of victims of the benefit case are entitled to the same protection as any other child. They too have the right to intervene from the youth welfare service if their parents are no longer able to offer them a safe upbringing climate. It’s not about parental guilt or innocence. It’s almost never about guilt. There is almost always impotence.


Of course, structural economic problems, no matter how they arise, can cause stress. Parents can become so preoccupied with these issues that they are emotionally inaccessible to their children and can no longer respond responsibly and sensitively to them. Parents can do nothing about it, but it is harmful to their children. If the help is then insufficient, a placement outside the home is sometimes unavoidable.

The image that children of foster parents have been erroneously removed from their homes and / or erroneously not relocated is wrong and oversimplified.

The supplementary case is also separate from the problems in youth care. Yes, there are problems due to waiting lists, bureaucracy, staff shortages and lack of resources, but those problems can not be blamed on the youth carers. They have to work on unruly problems in very difficult circumstances. The crisis in youth care is the result of political elections sanctioned by the same MPs who are now blowing so high in the tower. But that was already the case with the compensation case.

Marieke Engbers is a youth judge.

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