Introduction to Dutch youth policy

Facts and Figures

In the Netherlands, the term youth applies to children and young people from 0 up to the age of 25. In 2017, there are almost 4.9 million children in this age group. As in most other industrialised countries, the proportion of youth in the total population is decreasing.

Facts and figures about youth in the Netherlands

High ratings for well-being of Dutch youth

Every four years HBSC conducts comparative research among young people (11-, 13- and 15/16-year old boys and girls in 48 countries across Europe and North-America, including the Netherlands. Compared to other countries, young people in the Netherlands rate their own health and well-being very positively. In 2017 they consider themselves to be in good health (89.5 percent in primary school, 81.6 percent in secondary school) and give their quality of life high ratings (8.3 in primary school, 7.6 in secondary school).

Compared to four years ago Dutch young people are still happy with their social relations. But there are also some worrying developments. Young people experience more pressure through school work, use condoms less frequently and 15- and 16-year-olds still drink a lot of alcohol.

Source: HBSC 2017 Gezondheid en welzijn van jongeren in Nederland (Health and well-being of young people in the Netherlands).

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 specialised 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 specialised youth care and out-of-home 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 specialised 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 specialised 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 specialised 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 2017/18 more than 1.5 million children attended mainstream primary schools. In that same school year 33.970 children received special primary education and 29.850 children were in special needs schools. Of the 1.03 million young people in secondary education, more than 37 thousand students received special education.

Source: Onderwijs in cijfers (Education in figures) of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and CBS Statistics Netherlands.

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


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