Introduction to Dutch youth policy

Facts and Figures

In the Netherlands, the term youth is applied to children and young people from 0 up to the age of 25. In 2015, there are almost 5 million children in this age group. As in most other industrialized countries, the proportion of youth in the total population is decreasing.

Facts and figures youth in the Netherlands

High ratings for well-being of Dutch youth

Every four years HBSC conducts comparative research among young people in more than 40 countries, including the Netherlands. Compared to other countries, young people in the Netherlands rate their own health and well-being very positively. They consider themselves to be in good health (89 percent in primary school, 85 percent in secondary school) and give their quality of life high ratings (8.2 in primary school, 7.6 in secondary school). They enjoy considerable social support in their local environments and feel they can easily turn to their parents when experiencing problems. Young people in the Netherlands say they have lots of friends, like school and experience little stress from school work. Source: HBSC, 2013.

Overall, 85 percent of Dutch children and young people are doing fine. They grow up with normal development opportunities in our society and without the need for professional support or care. 15 percent of young Dutch people and their families need guidance and support in parenting, health care or other youth services. For most of them this concerns minor upbringing issues in health, education or parenting support, which can be addressed through preventative services or basic care. For almost 5 percent of children and young people more specialized care is needed, which can be provided within their own living environment (highly preferable), in ambulant care, in residential settings, in child protection, in juvenile settings, in foster care or through other services.

Youth care figures for 2014

In the beginning of 2015 the figures about children receiving child care were not complete yet. At the time there was still a transfer of information going on from the provinces, former youth care offices and care services to the municipalities.

According to the Dutch Childrights Monitor of 2015 the figures for 2014 did show a positive trend with a decrease of specialized youth care, out-of-home care and specialized youth care, and an increase in foster care:

  • Children receiving specialized youth care  (0-18 years) showed a decrease in care concerning two different child protection orders, from 49,300 in 2013 to 47,000 in 2014.  Note that this does not show the absolute number of all children receiving specialized care, because children can have been under two different rules during one year, in which case they are counted double.
  • The amount of children receiving out-of-home care shows a decrease already for the last 4 years. On the 31st of December 2014 there were 9,152 children under the age of 18 years that were receiving out-of-home care, while 10.578 children received this kind of care in 2013.
  • In 2014 more than 5,500 children received specialized youth care, including residential care and mental health care. That meant a decrease in comparison with the year before when almost 7,000 children received specialized care.
  • The amount of children that lives in a foster family has increased. A total of 21,880 children have lived in a foster family for a short or a longer period of time. 40% of them lived with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbours or teachers.  The other children lived in a foster family that was found through the mediation of a foster organization.
  • In 2013 the number of homeless youths (until 23 years of age) in 39 main municipalities was estimated around 2,800. This estimate is around the same as it was in 2012 and 2011.

Children in mainstream and special education

Children in the Netherlands are obliged to participate in full-time education from the moment they reach the age of 5 until the end of the school year during which they turn 16. In the school year of 2014/15 almost 1.5 million children attended mainstream primary schools. Some 37,000 children received special education and 31,000 children were in special needs schools. Of the 985,000 young people in secondary education, almost 40,000 received special education.

More up to date statistical information about the situation of youth in the Netherlands can be found in the National Youth Monitor.


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