YOUTH POLICY DEVELOPMENT IN NORTH-HOLLAND.

Introduction to provincial welfare policy, youth work and youth policy.
17 april 1986 for representatives from Barcelona province.

Mr. Delegate, ladies and Gentlemen,

It is both a pleasure and an honour for me to tell you something about the provincial policy for young people in North-Holland and also about the work done by the organisation, which I am representing today, the Council for Young Policy.

Iíll begin with a short outline of
how the province fits into the organisation of Dutch government,
developments in welfare policy,
provincial juvenile work and
youth policy.

Levels of administration and provincial areas.

Government in the Netherlands recognises
three levels of administration:

  1. local councils

  2. provinces

  3. central government.

At the moment there are 740 local councils and 12 provinces.

Provinces are responsible for 

  • town and country planning, 

  • the water authorities (an important task, as you will realise, 
    for a country which lies mostly below sea level), 

  • environmental planning, 

  • employment, 

  • the control of local council financing and welfare, a task which had developed greatly during the last ten years because of the so called "policy of decentralisation" by the Central Government.

Welfare Policy.

Welfare policy covers the areas of the arts, education, health, emancipation, social and welfare work, sports and leisure activities. 
The policy is divided into and based on these sectors.

In regard of particular groups efforts are being made to strive for a policy based on categories. It concerns groups who are socially or economically not so far advanced or who are hindered in their progress because of for exemple emancipation problems.

Central Government used to have a central policy in these areas. They developed laws and regulations and provided the means to carry them out. Provinces and local councils carried out in the past a "supplementary" marginal policy.

A decentralised policy is carried out at present, but with the exception of education. Tasks and responsibilities are clearly defined and the relevant financial means are transferred to lower government levels.

Local Councils are now directly responsible for carrying out policy in behalf of for example: 

  • child day nurseries, 

  • scouting, 

  • club houses, 

  • juvenile work, 

in short: the performing institutions.

Provinces are responsible for maintaining regional ad provincial organisations for promoting and supporting the performing institutions.

Central Government remains responsible for formulating new policies, work and methodology development, general support and provision of general information.

The provinces developed, following an initiative taken by Central Government, a procedure for planning welfare policy, so that it is possible for all inhabitants to be represented whether or not they are members of an organisation.

Welfare policy in North-Holland 1986.

There are 81 local (village/city) councils in the province. 
The province has, as far as welfare policy is concerned, 
responsibility for 80 city councils.
Amsterdam is, as youíll know, responsible itself to the Central Government for their own welfare policy 

In the 80 councils areas there are 1.630.000 people living 
(11% of the Dutch people)

In 1983 the first four-year plan was laid down for welfare work.

The province required, as general conditions for obtaining financing, that
organisations should operate in a democratic manner,

programmed activities meet the needs of the population and be developed in cooperation with the people themselves,

facilities (buildings and programmes) must be easily accessible to everyone
(no discrimination on the grounds of finance, mental or other grounds (handicapped people for example)

facilities must be evenly distributed throughout the whole province (no lack or "white" areas),

organisations must have a qualitative responsibility.

The Province prefers those facilities which are directed at less-favoured groups in society and which are available to large numbers of the population.

As I have already stated the Province is responsible for supporting the "carrying-out" work.

In other words: The province subsidises those organisations which have a supporting function.

Some of the elements of the support-function are:

Supervision of local directors, professional workers or volunteers who develop activities,

Expertness promoting by providing courses, training or supplementary education,

Documentation: supplying directly useable information,

Mediation between organisations with regard to supply and demand of for example, guests speakers, theatre companies or music groups, films etc.

Promoting of interests by converting, for example, developments into general policy lines, or strengthening cooperation between organisations and councils.

Most time is spent in practice on the supporting elements, mainly because finance is limited. There are, in addition to the elements mentioned, also possibilities for research, study and innovation, where they may lead to an improvement in quality of the work being carried out.

The following work areas are covered by the plan for welfare work: artistic forming, amateur dramatics, forming and development work, building-up society, sport, emancipation work and youth work, over which I shall give you more information now.

Youth work.

The province provides support in this category for:

Child care,

Neighbourhood and Clubhouse Work,

Provisions for unemployed persons

Juvenile Work: Youth work and clubs, scouting, play-gardens, hobby clubs, youth centres, political and religious groups for young people, environmental and history study clubs etc.

In this category the Province subsidises 14 organisations, in which a total of 83 persons are employed for an average of 29 hours a week.

Nearly all of these organisations have their own specific work-area
(for example play-garden work, scouting or denominated youth work.)

Plans are being developed at the moment, based on study and research, which should lead to a single integrated support system.

Perhaps a small scale provision for 10 or 12 councils for direct help of general nature, and where 2 or 3 persons could be employed.

There could be in addition one provincial facility where certain specific experts could be made available when required.

Several organisations are resisting this reorganisation plan because they fear they would lose their identities. The Province is certainly of the opinion that reorganisation would lead to better use of investment. Overlaps would be eliminated and services could be developed and offered centrally. It will also be possible to ensure a better distribution and accessibility of the facilities.

My organisation, the Council for Youth Policy, is undertaking the necessary research on behalf of the provincial administration.

 

That takes us to the last section of my introduction: Policy for the Youth.

Policy for the youth in North-Holland.
The province has clearly made a distinction for the first time in the aforementioned 4-years plan between 
"Youth Work Policy" and "Youth Policy".

The first of these, Youth Work Policy, is mainly concerned with
"provisions and maintenance of provisions for youth work";
the second Youth Policy covers a far wider notion and is based on
social-political ideas and the position of young people in society.
The province has this to say, amongst other things, about Youth Police.

"The general aim of the welfare policy and the related premises are also valid for the youth policy. The province administration considers the youth policy as an entirety of means an activities which are intended to provide the means for young people to develop and find their own place in society."

"The province stimulates, against a background of high unemployment and homelessness among young people, participation by young people in society and also in the formation of policy witch regard to themselves.
The Province assists in coordination between government and those organisations which are concerned with youth policy,"

Policy must be based upon the following:

1. Young people must be considered, as far as treatment is concerned, to be on a par with older citizens, which means:

a: Equal right in society,

b: Greater possibilities for social and political participation by allowing a more

effective say in matters which concern them,

c: Removal of factors which hinder development by young people (emancipation

of young people.)

2. Young people have a right to their own experiences in society.

3. Signals sent out by young people must be taken seriously.

It must of course be realised that "youth" consists of a very varied group, that financial means are limited and above all that there are limits to provincial authority and responsibilities.

In short: a clear statement of policy to provide as much as possible for young people, given the shortages of finance and authority possessed by the province.

It can be seen from the financial means provided how serious the Province takes its policy for young people: Youth work has not yet had to be curtailed, in spite of the social Ė economic recession, more has in fact been received; expenditure on projects for unemployed persons has increased; funds for youth accommodation and stimulation projects have been maintained and our Council has received extra financial support.

In 1983 the Province spent 2.200.000 euro;
for 1987 the amount, in spite of economics, will be 2.500.00 euro.

 

The Council for Youth Policy.
The council came into existence in its present form in 1983 and has as its task:
Stimulation and coordination of policy for young people. 
(younger policy
)

The council consists of 30 people who are familiar with the problems of youth and who
wish to work, based on the "solidarity argument", on improvements in the position of young people. The Council is divided into sections:

Youth Policy,

Education,

Social Assistence,

Employment Opportunities.

Housing and Accommodation,

Ethnic Groups,

Youth Work.

An office, giving employment to eight people, is available to help the Council carry out its work. In addition to supporting the sections the office carries out, coordinates and develop experiments designed to improve policy towards juveniles.

The Council participates in addition in a trial-project for school leavers and a project for participation in the arts. The council has emphasised more than ever, after the first two years of its new existence, the importance of involving young people directly in the development of its work. There have been for example conferences for pupils in school councils and schoolnewspapers.

In four weeks there will begin an experiment of involving young people in political policy at local council level as a part of a trial project t develop youth policy in the region West-Friesland.

I shall end my review by giving you some information on this special experiment.

Trail project West-Friesland.

After the first year of its (new) existence, during which general exploration took place, it was found by the Council that, in addition to working in sections preparing advice and commentary (upon request and its own initiative) for government and organisations, there should be an experiment developed, in which a broad policy for young people would be made definite.

The region West-Friesland has been chosen for this experiment. Its an area consisting of 13 local councils, including one town with 50.000 inhabitants.

The 13 councils comprise together 82 hamlets and villages containing a total of 187.000 inhabitants.

It was decided at a first step to carry out research into the facilities-pattern for young people and the development of local council policy.

The next step would then be to develop a few experiments, based on the information received from the research mentioned, with which experience could be gained, and which would then be transferable to the other regions of North-Holland (the third step).

Information has also been gathered during the first six months of the year, concerning the composition of the population, education facilities, absence from school, provisions for social assistence, sport and youth work, as well as the problem which were experienced
(the commercial leisure sector is also reviewed).
Developments in the possibility of employment and housing for young people were also researched.

Research, via local council budgets and policy planning,
was also done into how policy ideas worked out in practice.

The results were discussed with representatives from the council,
school administrations and welfare workers.

A first attempt was also made via a series of interviews to find out
what young people experience.

The first step provided a number of temporary conclusions, which where:

  1. Increasing risk behaviour was signalled 
    (alcohol and drug addition, truancy, vandalism, running away from home.)

  2. The number of young people aged between 13 and 17 who leave home and ask for
    assistence in increasing. 

  3. The large number of young people with lower education and especially girls with a lower standard of professional training is extremely disquieting

  4. There is still obscurity in all policy sectors about the position of young people from outside the Netherlands and their social position

  5. There are insufficient possibilities for independent housing of young people.
    There is also a great need for guidance for young people living in rooms.

  6. Nearly all organisations and persons approached, considered the use of alcohol by young people as very risky.

Now follow-up projects based on these conclusions are being developed in these projects the three welfare sections Education, Assistence and Youthwork will cooperate.
Councils have been invited to activily support the projects.

The follow-up projects cover the problem fields alcohol addition, employment for young people, experimental behaviour in higher education, local council youth participation in policy.

The whole project will be rounded off in November 1987 with a complete
description and analysis of the experiences.

The council hopes in this way, by way of proof, to provide support for a
coordinated policy for young people and to be able
to pass the results on to other regions in North-Holland and
possibly to other provinces in the Netherlands.

I hope Mr. Delegate, Ladies and Gentlemen, that I have given you an insight into
developments in youth policy in North-Holland.
If you should have any questions about the Province or the Council,
I should be pleased to answer them (if possible).

Thank you very much.

Zaanstad, 17 april 1986,
Jan A.M. van Hensbergen.

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