Naftali Bennett at a Bayit Yehudi convention at Tel Aviv University, September 10, 2014..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Monday called on heads of municipalities to immediately take advantage of the reforms being offered by his ministry and build additional daycare centers.
He made these remarks during an Economy Ministry conference to explain to local authorities the newly implemented reforms regarding the planning and building of daycare centers.
“In the coming years we plan to build 400 additional daycare centers for 30,000 children which will allow thousands of women to join the workforce,” said Bennett at the conference.
“The new method has come into force this morning, and I call on each and every one of you, heads of local authorities, to storm its gates. I anticipate that we will see a tremendous increase in the rate of establishing daycare centers in the coming years, and we will see the results of the new track within a short space of time,” he said.
Last month Bennett and Finance Minister Yair Lapid approved the funding to build the additional 400 daycare centers for children up to the age of three within a two-year time frame.
“I feel confident in the new model in which we have reduced bureaucracy and the requirements from the local authorities and have removed the barriers,” said Amit Lang, director-general of the Economy Ministry.
As part of the announcement, the ministry offered an incentive plan of up to 100% government funding for local municipalities to speed up the building of the daycare centers. In addition, the ministry will provide recognition of higher construction costs, remove bureaucratic barriers and provide a shortened budgeting track.
In 2012, following recommendations by the Trajtenberg Committee to build daycare centers, the ministries approved a budget of some NIS 1.2 billion toward their implementation, of which nearly half was transferred to local authorities. Despite this move, only a handful of daycare centers were built over the course of the past two years.
The reform aims to correct this blunder.
“Today there is an understanding that in order to implement government reforms, it is necessary to grant local municipalities, the operational arm, the budgetary and administrative envelope to implement the program and carry it out,” said Haim Bibas, chairman of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel and mayor of Modi’in.
According to the Economy Ministry, there is a severe shortage of supervised and subsidized daycare centers.
To date some 90,000 children up to the age of three, accounting for roughly a fourth of this age group, attend government supervised and subsidized daycare centers. For the tens of thousands of parents whose children are accepted into the highly sought after daycare centers, the government provides yearly subsidies totaling some NIS 900 million.
Those children who are not accepted into subsidized daycares are placed in family care or in private daycare centers, which are not subsidized and not supervised by the government.