Ethiopian children 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski (illustrative))
Poverty rates among children of immigrants increased slightly in 2009, while the
number of those committing crimes dropped, a report released Tuesday by the
Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the National Council for the Child
The report, titled “Immigrant Children in Israel,” is published
annually and tracks statistics about the welfare of immigrant children
Immigrant children (including those born in Israel to
parents who moved here) are often more prone to delinquency, dropping out of
school, and require a higher percentage of social services, said Yitzchak
Kadman, chairman of the National Council for the Child.
According to the
study, more than 200,000 immigrant children lived in Israel in 2009,
representing 9.6 percent of the population of Israeli children.
these children grew up in development towns; and half had at least one parent
that had moved from the former Soviet Union.
The report found that 27.9%
of children of immigrants were poor in 2009, and lived in households with
disposable incomes that were less than NIS 5,677 a month, according to the
Central Bureau of Statistics.
The poverty rate of this population rose 3%
in one year.
The report attributed the increased poverty rates to cuts in
national insurance benefits.
Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver
said in a statement that the report’s findings demonstrate that Israel must
“invest in integrating immigrants … in order to minimize already existing gaps.
The resilience of civil society is measured by its treatment of weaker
demographics, such as immigrants – and even more so of immigrants’ children, who
need more support and continual aid,” Landver said.
difficulties of immigrant children are also reflected in the high percentage of
children of immigrants enrolled in boarding schools for children at risk, the
report wrote. Children of immigrants made up a quarter of students in such
schools – almost three times the rate of the number of immigrant children in the
general Israeli youth population.
Additionally the number of immigrant
children on file with State Welfare Services in 2009 was three times the figure
in 1999, reflecting increased distress in immigrant populations.
said that the report’s data reflects a dim reality.
“In spite of certain
improvements in the conditions of immigrant children in various fields – such as
the percentage of children enrolled in public schools, and a decline in juvenile
delinquency – the data shows a troubling picture of these children’s
conditions,” Kadman said in a statement.
He called on “state authorities
to expend more funds and attention to immigrant children already living amongst
us, especially children of second generation immigrants, who are often in more
But Nicole Maor, executive director of the Legal
Aid Center for Olim, which provides free legal services for immigrants, said she
was surprised by the report’s high poverty rate among children of
She said she has not seen an increase in immigrants who are
having difficulty paying for other services in her practice.
noted that immigrant children also face other social and educational
High school graduation rates of immigrant children lagged 10%
behind the Israeli public in 2009. Additionally, 22% of immigrant children were
raised in single-parent homes in 2009, compared to 7.2% of children in the
general Israeli public.
The study did not specify which specific
immigrant communities and children face the highest levels of poverty and
difficulty acclimating to Israeli society, but Robbie Sassoon, executive
director of Crossroads, a nonprofit that supports Anglo immigrants at risk, said
the Anglo immigrant community is not immune from these
“Unfortunately, there is an assumption in the public that if
you are Anglo, poverty doesn’t affect you,” Sassoon wrote in an e-mail. “At
Crossroads … we see the results of a community of at-risk teens that the public
doesn’t believe exists. Not only are there not many resources for them
culturally, but many of the kids don’t have the Hebrew language skills to take
advantage of the resources that do exist.”
He added that these findings
are especially troubling because poverty and a lack of a support system “are two
major risk factors that can lead youth towards the streets where drugs and other
dangerous activities are all too available.”
The report analyzed
statistics issued by different government ministries, including the Ministries
of Education and Health. Kosher said that the report is intended to inform
policymakers, and does not issue policy recommendations.