On 1 November 2004, Mariek van den Wildenberg (56), the mother of five children, two of whom were (later) diagnosed with autism, went to the KVK. Until then she was executive secretary and studied pedagogy at Fontys in Tilburg. At the KVK she registered her idea: there had to be more development-oriented and tailor-made work with children. But not only with children, but also the parents had to be taught special parenting skills and the environment had to be involved, among other things in education. That's how JuniorCare started. "I prepared the work at a desk at the foot of our bed and went to work ambulant in families.
Everyone is different
"I started JuniorCare from my own need/confirmation regarding the care of our children. Fifteen years ago the guidance came mainly from the point of view of mental disability and there was a lot of attention for the person with the diagnosis. My children are both very gifted, so they could learn, but that had to be offered in the right way. I wanted to learn specific parenting skills myself, that was not offered. The help was very supportive, not activating the development or skills.".
"Soon I couldn't do this alone anymore. Why did the company quickly become a success? Because there was a great need for care that suited everyone's unique situation. Every person with autism is different, it is not for nothing that it is often called an autism spectrum disorder. Autism often doesn't come alone either, for example an anxiety disorder or learning problems can occur. What was new at the time was that the environment was also intensively involved in the process.
Just keep going
The first employees arrived in 2006, now there are about 50 employees. They were paid from PGB (personal budgets). "In 2008 JuniorCare became a BV, and therefore a strange duck in the care world where foundations are more common. "In 2009 we had the first big challenge: the PGB-money tap was closed, I had 15 employees then. I decided to have our quality certified by HKZ (HKZ stands for Harmonization Quality Assessment in the Healthcare Sector, a sector-specific standard based on the ISO 9001 standard) and entered into negotiations with the Healthcare offices. In addition to PGB, ZIN (care in kind) became our basis for financing. I received a subsidy to describe, investigate and theoretically substantiate our working method. Everything worked out and I could go further. “
"My husband Geert has been responsible for ICT and finance from the start, in addition to his 40-hour job (until 2016). And he took care of our family when I went to school, did intakes or worked in a family. The children supported (and still support) my initiative. I myself had the intrinsic drive to make the road to help shorter and better suited for others than it has been for me".
Over the years, Mariek has had to adapt the organisation time and again to remain future-proof. Changing politics and laws and regulations form the basis for this. In 2015, the transition to youth care has become a fact. The municipalities became clients. No longer one tender, but all of a sudden seventeen or so. Quite a job. But it worked again. In 2019, the ZVW for diagnostics and treatment was added.
No lack of perseverance, therefore, this mother of five children. "At the moment we work from Tilburg and Breda in the regions Heart of Brabant, West-Brabant East and West-Brabant West with 400 customers per year. We, guide, diagnose and treat". JuniorCare's target group has also been expanded. Not only children, but also adults can knock on the door. These are people with an autism spectrum disorder and/or related problems such as ADHD or an anxiety disorder or parenting problems. "Our working method Samen aan de Slag(SaS)' is a study into evidence-based working. The care is paid for by the PGB, the Youth Care Act, the Social Support Act and the ZVW.
Together we strive to make people happy and as independent as possible. Our organizational goal is to always offer the right help without our clients being bothered by the underlying, sometimes impeding structures or the feeling that they are dealing with a small, involved and professional team. As much as possible in their own environment, as light as possible, as heavy as necessary.
"I started in Goirle but soon moved to Tilburg because we were more accessible and visible there. The cooperation with the municipality of Tilburg, now also one of my clients, is also very pleasant and even personal. There are also many initiatives to get to know fellow entrepreneurs, so there are quick cross-references. Great! That makes me feel at home in Tilburg as an atypical entrepreneur. I'm not an entrepreneur focused on numbers and limitless growth. I do grow, but always with quality in mind and do what is necessary, no more, no less. I am a human being and that characteristic has helped me a great deal, also as an entrepreneur. In contact with others, I come up with ideas that benefit our clients or my team. In addition, I have surrounded myself with professional people who have helped me several times to keep the company future-proof, so that I have space to further develop the care content. I think I'm not the easiest one for my immediate environment, because I set the proverbial bar high, but always with the customer in mind".
Photo: Mariek with her son, just started JuniorCare.
Because it is no longer only for 'juniors', JuniorCare will change the name on 1 November. "On 1 November we celebrate: for me, the team and our clients the end of a beautiful period with many successes but also the beginning of a period under a new name with more opportunities for more clients and their environment. We invite a BN-er who has had a lot of searching done himself. In the meantime, my two children with autism have grown up, are independent and happy. The other three too, by the way. At the moment I am a director of JuniorCare and in 2017 I put the daily management in the capable hands of Ino Cornel."
"Ambitions for the future? Ha, ha, I just sold my nursery De Korveltuin. I recently had a big burn-out and learned that I have to do better for myself, but also want to take care of myself. Family, friends and free time are now literally a matter of life and death. During the burnout it turned out that I am more experienced than I thought, I have the maximum given given my aptitude, education and experience. I have now set up the organisation in such a way that this is also possible thanks to my director Ino and the highly motivated team. Perhaps I can use my experience expertise for the talents of people with autism or through the academic workshop autism. But saying "no" once actually feels good too."
Mariek's golden tip
"That's not one, that's a few: Always prioritise the needs of your target group, do not compromise on quality, remain critical of your own actions, stay in touch with your employees and fellow entrepreneurs. Finally, ensure a balance between work and private life."
With effect from 1 November, the name JuniorCare has been changed to Asendo. Asendo offers specialised help to people with psychological problems such as autism, ADHD, depressive feelings, anxiety, trauma, sexual issues, certain personality problems, but also parenting problems. We work as much as possible with and in our own environment. We do this by using our best-practice method 'Working Together' to make someone happy again, but also as independent as possible.
We offer diagnostics, treatment and guidance; always as short as possible and as long as necessary. We work together on sustainable behavioural change for children, young people, (young) adults and families. Our help requires a referral from the general practitioner or an order from the municipality. We work in the heart of Brabant, South-East Brabant, West Brabant East and West Brabant West.