Kim Feenstra ‘fights’ for ‘the state’s children’ and youth care

As a youngster, Kim Feenstra experienced firsthand what placing custody does to a child. According to the model, the youth care system is appalling on all sides, and she has now made it her mission to change that. Her documentary Tasks: Children of the state shows the boring side of youth care and in this way she tries to push the theme towards the political agenda. “I will not stop, I will fight.”

Among other things, due to the scandal surrounding the unemployment benefit affair, state organizations such as youth care have recently come under scrutiny. For example, the comedian Peter Pannekoek called the out-of-home placements around this welfare case ‘state kidnappings’, and Jojanneke van den Berge, in her Jojanneke and youth care tapes, discussed what happens to children, ‘by the state’. And Charlotte Bouman, who once demonstrated in the ministerial building against the mental health service, emphasized at the time that there are creaks and creaks in youth care.

Kim Feenstra is making a documentary about youth care

And now there is Feenstra, who in her own way condemns the status of youth care in the Netherlands. Due to her own turbulent childhood, she came into contact with the youth authorities at the age of 8. She made the documentary Tasks: Children of the state about that, also that Subway and we spoke to Feenstra about her motivation. “It’s a problem that’s been going on for years and it’s getting more and more problematic.”

Feenstra chose to tackle this without a broadcaster or transmitter and released the film via an online platform. “I wanted to show the seriousness of the situation, and that includes harsh images,” she says.

Kim Feenstra: ‘Can happen to anyone’

IN Assignments the viewer sees, among other things, parents who have had to deal with out-of-home placements for their children, children who tell their stories about their time in youth care, lawyers and colleagues who open up about the system. And it leaves you with a very sad feeling after the movie. Jamie Faber, former partner of singer Dean Saunders, also appears in the film. She tells how appalling, and later proved to be unjustified, the detention of her son was.

According to Feenstra, many people think that you will have to deal with youth care if you “live three floors behind with huge debts and problems”. But people from different social strata appear in the documentary. “From a KLM pilot to police detectives. It can happen to anyone,’ said the documentarian.

Suicide

Perhaps the most intense part of the film is the family of Marie Carine Kruizinga, who as a teenage mother had to hand over three children to youth care. Abuse, assault and even suicide by one of her daughters followed. Marie Carine and her son and daughter talk about the mistreatment from that time and the grief after the death of the oldest child.

According to Feenstra, the main characters in the film are happy that they could share their story. “They have not dared to do that for a long time, which is a great shame.” And although the model agrees that a lot is currently happening in our country, according to her, this problem should does not disappear at the bottom of the pile. It is accompanied by misery, sadness, depression and even death. It can no longer be like that,” says Feenstra.

youth care Kim Feenstra
Marie Carine’s son, Rosario, shows a photo of his late sister. Photo: Tasks: The children of the state

Youth care as a ‘sick’ system

In the Netherlands, the number of out-of-home placements is much higher than in other countries. And a maze of rules and protocols makes it difficult for aid workers and even judges. Because there are a lot of good foster parents, institutions, family guardians and youth carers among them, emphasizes several interviewees. FNV director Maaike van den Aar says, for example, that youth carers have long known that “the system is sick”. According to Feenstra, the placements outside the home must be carried out by experts from the area. “A government or municipality should not interfere in that. It is used on professionals with an empathetic capacity. They examine what is needed per family.”

Feenstra received many reactions to his documentary. “Full of indignation, anger and sadness,” she explains. She also mentions the reactions of employees from youth care and former institutional directors. “They are looked down upon. There are bad apples, but most people do this work with their heart.”

Financial interests within youth care

But Feenstra also addresses ‘dubious’ cash flows in his film. “Entanglement of money, politics and the health market” makes the system problematic, says councilor Loudy Nijhof. She emphasizes in the documentary that there were and are many interests in this sector. Feenstra: “Fire letters and reports have been sent and reported for years. It turns out that there is an economic game behind the system.”

Van den Aar explains later in the film that youth institutions are paid per occupied bed, financed by 355 municipalities. “Then as an organization you have to make sure that your beds are slept in to exist. Whereas, ideally, we don’t want to place children out of the house.” And that’s why, according to Feenstra “an incentive to reunite parents and children”.

Kim Feestra wants the system overhauled

Van den Aar believes that the government should take responsibility for the serious situation. “Who’s going to move? It’s the cabinet. The problem is so big that you could almost say: ‘Take a break and start over’. Which Feenstra also agrees with: “Youth care must regain the purpose for which it was once established. And that is to help children and families.”

The viewer of Tasks: Children of the state makes a donation to see the film. With these donations, Feenstra is setting up a foundation and a team of lawyers and jurists. “We try to help parents with unfair cases. To get their child back.” With her documentary, Feenstra wanted not only to put the problem on the table, but also to be part of the solution. “The people who watch the documentary are also part of the solution through their donation.” And the ultimate goal for Feenstra? “A parliamentary inquiry and ultimately the whole system upside down. I will not stop, I will fight.”

Subway also approached the Dutch Youth Institute with the question of whether they had seen the documentary and how they view the issue. A spokesman said they are equally happy to see changes to the current youth care system. To this end, the knowledge center prepared nine recommendations for redesigning the system.

You can watch the documentary Taken: Children of the State here

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Kim Feenstra ‘fights’ for ‘the state’s children’ and better youth care: ‘System on the shovel’

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