Joint efforts ensure early childhood education in Israel is being cared for
Low-income families who apply for a childcare subsidy in Israel have typically had to wait three months for a decision. Recently, reforms to the process significantly reduced the paperwork, and in future decisions will come in just three days. Every year, 80,000 parents apply for a subsidy – this reform will meaningfully improve their lives.
The decision followed lobbying of the Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services by the Coalition for Early Childhood Education. Launched in December 2015 and led by the Foundation’s partner ANU, the Coalition is already having a significant impact on the early childhood sector in Israel.
In other announcements since taking over responsibility for the 0-3 age group from the Ministry of Economics, on July 31, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services has committed to building 108 new day care centres, improving the working conditions of caregivers, and translating subsidy application forms into Arabic. These announcements followed one of the Minister of Social Affairs and Social Services’ first actions on gaining responsibility for the early childhood sector: inviting the Coalition for a meeting, and appointing a Coalition member to join a new early childhood committee.
The Coalition represents over 20 organisations including parents, caregivers, education experts, activists and community leaders from all sectors of Israeli society. They have come together to advocate for reforms including better regulation of care for children between birth and age three, higher standards and supervision, an educational continuum and an increase in subsidised daycare centers to cater for the increasing demand.
The Coalition has launched a public campaign with innovative tactics, including photographing members of the Knesset – the Israeli parliament – wearing the coalition’s stickers, and demonstrating with banners and strollers in front of the Prime Minister’s house.
The coalition’s PR efforts have generated dozens of media items across Israel’s mainstream media (for instance this article on ynet), putting young children on the public agenda as never before. The Executive Director of ANU, the Foundation partner which organises the Coalition, has recently been named as one of the ten most influential people in Israel by the business media outlet The Marker.
In the coming two years, with Foundation support, the Coalition will continue to campaign for comprehensive policy change and act as a watchdog to ensure that promised reforms take place.