Netherlands child protection law grants families the right to make a plan
Jun 29, 2011
On March 15, 2011, the Netherlands Parliament voted unanimously to amend the Child Protection Act. The Act now grants parents or guardians of a child the right to meet with family and other involved friends or close family supporters to make their own plan regarding how to care for a child of concern. The right to meet and make a plan for a child comes as a first recourse before the state and courts are permitted to intervene.
Rob van Pagée, director of Eigen Kracht Centrale, a nonprofit organization that led lobbying efforts for the law said, “We see this as a validation for the rights of citizens.”
....Eigen Kracht conference coordinators are people in the community, not social-work professionals, who hold regular jobs but also have the skills (following three days of training) and interest in conducting conferences. Coordinators have no stake in the outcome of the conference. Since the Netherlands is very much a multicultural country, the coordinators take care to match the culture and language of the family concerned. Each coordinator conducts only one conference at a time, which takes several weeks to organize.
After preparation, the conference itself contains three parts. First, professionals including social workers and court officials present an outline of the problem, legal constraints, availability of resources and any other relevant information that might be useful to the family. Second, professionals leave the room, and families and supporters meet privately to make a plan. Finally, the professionals return and the family presents the plan, which is always accepted if it is safe for the child.
....Under the new law, citizens are entitled “to construe an action plan, or to adapt an existing plan, within six weeks” of a case going to court. An exception is made only if “there are concrete threats to the development of the child, or if the interests of the child are otherwise at risk.” While the Eigen Kracht conference model itself could not be written directly into the law, it is mentioned in the “Elucidation” of the amendment and will likely be the primary mode for families who choose to make their own plans.