Parents can lose child benefit if they skip school

Losing child benefit because children are truant. It’s possible. In September 2010, three families in the Netherlands were in danger of no longer receiving child benefit for their child or children. The reasons: the children were skipping school. Since the beginning of 2010, a municipality can withdraw child benefit if the child is truant or does not go to school enough. Municipalities often see it as a last resort. The rules for losing child benefit for truant children.

Compulsory education law and truancy

In September 2010, compulsory education officials registered three families to ensure that they no longer receive child benefit. The education officer is responsible for the implementation of the Compulsory Education Act and ensures that both parent and child adhere to the rules, but also that a school does what it is supposed to do. Dropout of young people occupies a central place in the work of the education officer. A distinction is made between luxury absenteeism where a child does not go to school for a while because he or she is on holiday with mom and dad, for example, and signal absenteeism. Signal failure is often the cause of major(er) problems. There are also children who do not go to school for months or who drop out altogether. A school attendance officer should hear from the school if this is the case and then take steps to seek help for the problems or find another school. The aim is always for a child to leave school with a starting qualification, i.e. with a diploma. Withdrawing child benefit is a means of pressure that was introduced in 2010. Parents, children and the school could already be fined for this.

Not receiving child benefit – how does that work?

  1. Families who have been informed that they will not receive child benefit often do not receive it for a short period of time, for example a quarter.
  2. It is often stated that the financial compensation will be given again if the child or children simply return to school.
  3. Practice has already shown that this arrangement works very well for some families.

For which group of young people can child benefit be withheld?

  • Child benefit can only be withheld from young people aged 16 and 17.
  • Moreover, truancy by parents and their child was preventable.
  • In cases where this is not the case and parents and child cannot do anything about the situation, child benefit cannot be withdrawn.

Conditions for withholding child benefit

Child benefit can therefore be withheld if:

  1. Children aged 16 and 17 do not go to school for a long time
  2. Their parents and they themselves had prevented this
  3. There is an agreement with the Social Insurance Bank (SVB).

More than 300 municipalities have an agreement with the SVB

Municipalities that want to withhold child benefit from a family as a means of exerting pressure in order to ensure that a child or several children return to school normally, must enter into an agreement with the SVB. More than 300 municipalities have already done this.

Fines for truancy: luxury absenteeism

Punishments for truancy have become much less in recent years. In 2008, the Public Prosecution Service imposed 1,284 fines for luxury absences. In 2009, 1,182 fines were sent to parents and children for the same luxury absences. In more serious cases, the parent and/or child must appear in court. The judge imposed a fine on 1,637 in 2008. In 2009, that number was much lower, namely 1,400. Parents and children had to pay a total of around 600,000 euros for their truancy behavior.

Fines for signal failure

Signal failure occurs when there are other problems. This could mean that things are not going well in the family, but also that a child is being bullied, is gifted, cannot follow education or has other problems. In this case of signal failure, the focus is mainly on the solution. However, if a child continues to play truant, community service orders are often imposed. In 2008, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) imposed community service 855 times for failure to signal. In 2009, the Public Prosecution Service did this 798 times. In 2008, the judge imposed a community service order 2,233 times for signaling failure. In 2009, that number was 10 percent less and it amounted to 2,091 times a community service order was imposed.