Youth Care on BES islands gets legal basis

The Daily Herald reports today that the legal foundation for the formal inspection of youth care  in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba is being secured through legislation. The Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament last week approved a law proposal to regulate the quality demands of youth care and the related inspection by the Inspection for Youth Care (IYC).

The Inspection lacked a legal basis for its supervisory work on the islands which needed to be secured, said State Secretary of Public Health, Welfare and Science Martin van Rijn, State Secretary of Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff and Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk in the Explanatory Note that accompanied the law proposal to amend the Implementation Law of the three public entities. The law proposal originates from June 2015 and took a while to make it through the Second Chamber.

Legislation is a necessity because it is of great importance that youth care in the Caribbean Netherlands is of a good quality level and supervision is executed on the organisations offering youth care, foster care, family guardianship institutions and the Caribbean Netherlands Court of Guardianship (CoG), it was stated in the Explanatory Note. The IYC and its supervisory tasks has already proven that it can play a “stimulating role” in the quality improvement of youth care institutions. The law proposal regulates that the youth care and foster care facilities are required to offer quality care in the best interest of minors and their protection. The law proposal further regulates the task of the CoG to draft regular reports. The law creates a norm based upon which the Inspection can supervise, stated Edith Schippers and Ard van der Steur. They said the islands also considered it useful to improve the quality and enhance the supervision.

The IYC regularly visits the islands since 2008. In the period 2009 to 2011, the focus was on the strengthening of youth care. In the meantime, all three islands have youth care facilities. As such, the centre of attention was shifted towards the quality of care that is offered. An inspection late 2013 confirmed that there were several shortcomings: there were waiting lists, the care offered was insufficient and too many management/decisions based on incidents. The Inspection concluded in its March 2014 report that some major steps were needed to improve the quality of youth care on the islands.

The Inspection holds so called “risk based supervision,” which means that the supervision is most intense in the areas where the risks are bigger for youngsters. This policy is based on a risk analysis of the various youth care facilities, the foster care facility and the CoG. During the inspection, the inspectors check dossiers, speak with management, group leaders and staff, as well as the youngsters. Recommendations for improvement must be followed and the Inspection will check if this indeed has been the case. The Inspection furthermore carries out calamity supervision in case of fatal accidents or severe injury.

Three organisations offer youth care on the islands: the Caribbean Netherlands the Youth Care and Family Guardianship JGCN with facilities on all three islands, Rosa di Sharon in Bonaire and the Project Foundation, also in Bonaire.

JGCN, established in 2011, is the largest organisation, and authorised to execute the supervision on youngsters imposed by the Court and foster care. JGCN has five units, of which three in Bonaire, and offers ambulant youth care, foster care and residential care. In St. Eustatius and Saba it concerns the Centre for Youth and Family which is also in charge of preventive support in the
area of family care and the upbringing of children. There is no residential care in St. Eustatius and Saba; this care is arranged on other islands.

The Second Chamber adopted the law proposal as a formality last Thursday without voting. The law proposal has gone to the First Chamber for handling. The amendment to the Caribbean Netherlands Implementation Law becomes a fact after the Senate’s approval, followed by the proclamation.

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