Jerusalem, Israel - About a fifth of the haredi children in Israel live in families without a providing parent, and some 37% of them have disabilities – especially learning disabilities, according to data presented on Monday by the Ministry of Social Affairs ahead of a convention about the Schmidt plan – a special plan for children at risk.
The ministry was proud to report it was gradually enacting the plan in haredic cities. Despite the resistance it faced at first, the national plan – meant to assist children at risk and their families – is now receiving full cooperation in all educational systems in Bnei Brak, Elad, Modiin Ilit, Beitar Ilit, Beit Shemesh, as well as cities with large haredi communities such as Netanya and Safed.
The solution includes a close cooperation between the haredi community and the service providers from the beginning of the process – and not only at the final stages. Haredi authorities recognized an opportunity for their community and gave full backing to the plan.
Each community nominated a haredi director from within the community, with prior experience dealing with children and youths. In addition, officials met with rabbis and public representatives in each community to present the plan – and encouraged them to take an active part in its planning and implementation.
To further advertise and legitimize the plan, the Ministry of Social Affairs issued a press release and also approached haredi organizations and encouraged them to participate.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog said that "despite harsh cases of children abuse, such as the 'Taliban mom', 'starving mom,' and Elior Chen affairs, the haredi community made it difficult for the authorities to enter it and address such cases. I laud the decision of haredi community leaders to make amends and confront the phenomenon."
Ministry of Social Affairs Director-General Nachum Itzkovitch noted that "the haredi community is characterized by large families, social and religious supervision, a separate education system in each sect and many charity organizations, as well as distrust in the establishment and avoidance from using services provided by the 'secular establishment.'"