JIMwerktMentor Wilma and her neighbor Bodyl
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 13:20
All young people who are involved with youth care must be able to have a mentor of their own choosing. Outgoing State Secretary Van Ooijen of Health therefore wants to make the successful JIM approach available nationally, together with a number of large youth care organizations.
JIM stands for ‘Your Introduced Mentor.’ Young people who come into contact with youth care often see many different care providers. This help appears to be better when the young person chooses a mentor from his or her own environment to assist him or her. Because the assistance can be better coordinated, even out-of-home placements can be prevented.
The JIMs can be grandparents, uncles or aunts, neighbors or other acquaintances. Because there are often tensions between the parents and the young person, the JIM employee is present as the young person’s ‘ambassador’ during discussions with social services, school, neighborhood teams, youth care and any other agencies involved. This way, all those different care providers do not have to gain the family’s trust again and again. The mentor is always there as a familiar face.
One of the young people who have experience with a JIM is Aldwin. His aunt Sabine wanted to become his mentor and help him, including with the difficult conversations with his father, her brother:
‘My aunt became my mentor and mediator with my parents’
“We see that the JIM approach helps both prevent and shorten out-of-home placements,” explains Els Bijman of the JIMwerkt foundation. “Youth care has received a lot of criticism in recent years, including the fragmentation of services, which means that young clients see so many different care providers. The JIM offers stability among all these different faces.”
An evaluation of 15 JIM programs in Groningen showed that closed youth care was prevented in two cases and eight out-of-home placements could be prevented. School dropouts were also prevented in three cases. In addition to these positive effects for young people, 476,000 euros were saved in the pilot. In the Rotterdam Rijnmond region, with the help of JIMs, out-of-home placement was averted in 28 percent of the 112 registrations.
The mentors are supervised by a youth care worker. There are now 500 youth care workers who do this, but the ministry wants to expand that to 3,000 so that most young people who come into contact with youth care can receive a JIM. “It is also very nice for youth care workers to know that there is always a constant factor in the family who knows exactly what is going on,” Bijman explains.
Isn’t it a very heavy responsibility for the mentors? “Family members and those involved are often aware of the situation, but cannot contribute anything to it themselves,” Bijman explains. “Now they really have a seat at the table. Parents open things up and they hear what the care providers advise. This way they can assist and help the young people very well.” Bijman emphasizes that it is important that the mentors receive proper guidance from youth care.
‘No more youth care’
The approach is also included in the Youth Reform Agenda of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. “Actively involving informal support figures from the youth network is essential in the context of strengthening the ordinary life and growth of young people,” says outgoing State Secretary Maarten van Ooijen of Health. “We think the solution does not lie in more youth care, but rather with all of us: ourselves, family, friends, neighbors, sports clubs, schools, the neighborhood and society as a whole.”
The nine youth care organizations that will now also work with this approach are spread across the Netherlands. They are Enver, Levvel, entrea lindenhout, iHUB, Via Jeugd, Wij Groningen, Youké, Sterk Huis and Jarabee. Discussions are still ongoing with other organizations.