The National Program for Children and Youth at Risk, began implementation in 2008. The goal of the program is to change the way that Israeli society copes with children and youth at risk and to enhance and strengthen the services for them in the community. The program established an inter-ministerial framework that promotes an integrated approach to addressing this challenge at the national and local levels. The program is currently implemented in approximately 180 local authorities of low and middle socioeconomic status.
A key component of the strategy was to develop a comprehensive assessment of the number, characteristics, and needs of children and youth at risk. Thus, a method was developed to implement this assessment in each of the communities in the program. The method uses a uniform definition and protocol for gathering the information from the services that are focused directly on children and youth at risk as well as the universal educational and health services that also come into contact with them. Previously, only partial and non-uniform information was available and primarily focused on cases served by the social services and the police.
HCS inaugurated Embracing the Future, an innovative program that targets youth in Jerusalem. Eligible candidates are adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 who are identified by social workers from the Jerusalem Municipality’s Department of Social Services as being at risk. Dentists at the HCS provide these patients with comprehensive orthodontic treatment free or at a nominal fee. Restoring self-esteem to these children, who are already suffering from many of the problems that seem insurmountable to teenagers, enables them to function more effectively and happily in school, within their families, and among their peers. Embracing the Future is a revolutionary and unique program, based on the realization that aesthetics can have a profound and far-reaching impact on a youngster’s life.
In this way, for the first time in Israel, systematic and comprehensive information about children and youth at risk and their characteristics was collected in authorities where two-thirds of the children in Israel live. Therefore the data can provide a basis for understanding the national picture.
This database serves multiple purposes. It serves as the basis for planning the policies and programs to be implemented at the national and local levels. In each community, a multi organizational framework was established to develop a multi-year plan for utilization of the funds that are allocated at the national level and to integrate them with local resources. The database serves as a key resource for the planning process.
The institute has played a key role in developing the database, and in training the communities to collect and analyze the data and to report regularly on the extent, characteristics and needs of the children and youth at risk as identified by all the communities in the program. This is the third report in the series. In the localities where the National Program is implemented, 261,000 children and youth – 16% of all children and youth in those localities – were identified at risk. There is great variance among the localities in the percentages of children and youth at risk, ranging from 9% to 47%.
You can read the full article here https://brookdale.jdc.org.il/en/publication/children-youth-risk-israel/