A flagship government program aimed at reducing the number of children and youth
considered at risk has been sharply criticized by the State Comptroller’s Office
for failing to properly assess and keep track of its own work over the past five
The National Program for Children and Youth at Risk, which is
under the auspices of the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, was also faulted
for taking more than four years to get any of its programs actually working in
Established in 2006 based on recommendations made by the
inter-ministerial committee headed by child welfare expert Professor Hillel
Schmidt, which found that more than 300,000 children in Israel could be classed
as at risk, the national program brought together professionals from five
government offices in an effort to address the needs in some 56 local
Budgeted at NIS 155 million a year for multiple years, the
comptroller said that the program had succeeded in fostering better cooperation
between the various professional government departments working with children
and local authorities.
However, it criticized the program for taking more
than four years to actually reach the children at risk in the various locations,
by which time, pointed out the authors of the report, many of the children
identified at risk no longer fit the original criteria and were therefore not
eligible to join any of the frameworks that had been created for helping
In addition, the comptroller’s report found that the program had
not established any quantifiable goals to reduce the number of children at risk.
No evaluation had been carried since the program was established. The operation
was further chided for using a decentralized computer system to collect and
store its data.
The program’s director, appointed by the Welfare and
Social Services Ministry, was also faulted for not providing transparent or
substantial data from the program.
The State Comptroller’s Office
recommended that the program’s steering committee and its director immediately
introduce a centralized computer system for collecting and analyzing data. The
office also encouraged the program’s director to set quantitative targets for
reducing the scope of children at risk.
“At the time of the audit, five
years after the government decided to implement it and two years after
municipalities started to use the programs to help children at risk, it is
unclear to what extent the plan has actually achieved its goals,” wrote the
authors of the comptroller’s report.