Inaugural address Jolanda Mathijssen: Youth care needs systems thinking

The care and upbringing of children is primarily the responsibility of parents. This is also stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, more and more parents are experiencing parenting stress. On top of that, more than one in ten parents face an accumulation of worries in at least three life domains. This puts great pressure on families. To relieve the pressure, the government also has a role in providing a good and well thought-out system of youth care. "Care for youth cannot exist without care for parents and family," believes Professor of Care for Youth Jolanda Mathijssen.

The family unit-defined as one or more adults and one or more children living together-greatly impacts child development. However, nearly one in three parents experience parenting stress. This number has increased over the past 10 years; as recently as 2013, one in four parents reported experiencing difficulties. Unlike many other European countries, the Netherlands does not have a family support policy in place. However, various reports and the new Reform Agenda for Youth are increasingly focusing on families. Important points of attention are strengthening the pedagogical basis and paying attention to the situation of the family, when youth support is needed. For instance in the case of poverty, housing problems or social isolation.

Jolanda Mathijssen: "The proposed reforms have important consequences for families facing problems, as well as for municipal policy, youth (health) care and youth mental health. Monitoring and mapping these reforms and their consequences is essential to work towards a system that truly helps families and children."

About Jolanda Mathijssen

Endowed Professor of Care for Youth

J.J.P. Mathijssen (1964) studied family pedagogy at Radboud University in Nijmegen. She received her doctorate from Erasmus University Rotterdam for a study on the influence that family functioning has on the course of problem behavior of children registered at a Regional Institution for Ambulatory Mental Health Care. Subsequently, she worked as a postdoc at Radboud University and epidemiologist at GGD Hart voor Brabant.

Since 2009, she has been affiliated with Tilburg University (Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Tranzo), where she is program leader of the Academic Collaborative Center (Academische Werkplaats) on Youth. Since September 2022, she is endowed professor of Care for Youth within this Center.

The endowed chair was established by the municipalities of Tilburg, Breda and Eindhoven, the GGDs Hart voor Brabant, West Brabant and Brabant Zuidoost, GGZ Eindhoven, De Viersprong, Sterk Huis, Combinatie Jeugdzorg, Koraal Groep, the Dutch Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child, LOC Waardevolle Zorg, Avans Hogeschool and Fontys Hogeschool.

Note for the press

Jolanda Mathijssen (Tranzo, Tilburg School for Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University) delivers her inaugural address entitled ’Zorg voor jeugd: Het systeem onder de loep. Van je familie moet je het maar hebben’ on Thursday, 31 August, at Tilburg University.

For more information, please contact Jolanda Mathijssen ( ) or Tilburg University’s press officers ( / 013’466 4000).