What does the ‘Gezinsvoogdij’ do?

The family guardianship (gezinsvoogdij) on Bonaire is part of the Youth Care and Family Supervision Dutch Caribbean (Jeugdzorg en Gezinsvoogdij Caribisch Nederland). There are 6 so-called ‘family guardians’ (‘gezinsvoogden’) working. These are social workers, who give guidance to children who are held under supervision by the judge and also to their parents.

When are children held under supervision and what does that mean exactly?

For some children there are serious concerns about their development and security, about the way they are growing up and about the situation at home. In that case, after receiving a notification concerning the child’s situation, the Family Guardianship (Voogdijraad) of Bonaire will do the necessary research and give advice to the judge. After that it is always the judge either rules or does not a rule a ‘supervision order’ (‘ondertoezichtstelling’).

With a supervision order the judge assigns a family guardian (gezinsvoogd). The family guardian together with the parents will ensure that the education situation becomes safe and stable again. During the period of the supervision order parents will remain responsible for their child, but they will share the responsibility with a family guardian. Parents will have to discuss important topics with the family guardian. Together they will make decisions about for example what school to attend, the education at home and the health situation. Together with the parents the family guardian will make an Action Plan containing goals on which will be worked. A supervision order is no voluntary assistance. Parents are obligated to cooperate in this. There are parents who find this difficult. There are also parents who find it all right that their child is held under supervision and is receiving the necessary help.

Custodial placement

Frequently parents are afraid that the family guardianship will ‘take away’ their child and arrange for a custodial placement. Sometimes, advised by the family guardian, children are placed out of their home and another (generally generally temporary) place is searched for them in an adoptive family or a shelter. It is important to know that a child is only placed out of home in cases of extreme emergency. It only happens when nothing else can be done and the child cannot keep living at home anymore for his or her safety. Always attempts will be made to solve the problems by enabling help first. Family guardians prefer that the children stay with their parents. Sometimes however parents (temporarily) cannot take care of their children, or cannot do so sufficiently, for example because they are addicted. It also happens that a child is being seriously beaten, abused or neglected.

All decisions which have big consequences for parents and children, like custodial placement, are never made by only one person. The family guardian always consults with the behavior expert and the team before an advice for custodial placement is presented to the judge. The judge is the one who decides whether the advice is right and if the custodial placement will be executed.


A custodial placement is very sad and painful for parents. Also parents who are not able to be responsible parents, usually do love their child a lot. For the family guardians themselves it is also hard to have to offer such advice. Parents will keep seeing their child who has been placed out of the home. Together with them, there will be looked into the conditions they need to work on and which they have to comply with, so that their child can go back home. A custodial placement is imposed for a year and can be extended afterwards by the judge. The supervision order will be removed when the education situation at home is safe and stable again.


Common goal

Family guardians find it unfortunate that often times there are a lot of misconceptions concerning the work they do. The goal for parents as well as for the family guardians is that the children grow up healthy, safe and with joy. If the development of the child or the child is directly in danger, sometimes there intervention is necessary to prevent it from getting worse, even though it may be painful and sad. Parents who still are not able to handle their problems or the problems of their child, are usually still satisfied with the supervision order, because they want what is best for their child.