Children get close to the land on Tu Bishvat, 2005.
(photo credit: JOE MALCOLM)
The Labor and Social Services Ministry announced on Wednesday the allocation of NIS 190 million toward building daycare centers for early childhood education.
The ministry said it was transferring nearly the full budget for construction of daycare centers to the local authorities already in the beginning of 2018, in a move it called “unprecedented.”
“I made it a primary priority to expand the range of subsidized and supervised frameworks for toddlers,” Labor and Social Services Haim Katz said. “Thanks to a dedicated staff that I set up to promote construction, dozens of daycare centers have been added in the past year to help lower the cost of living for parents.”
Katz said the transfer of funds to local authorities at the beginning of the year is another measure that will help municipalities speed up construction.
The ministry said it has thus far approved 65 requests for new centers for the coming year.
Among the municipalities to receive the funds are Ashkelon, Binyamina-Givat Ada, Jerusalem and Haifa.
The total budget for 2018 stands at some NIS 309m., and the ministry said it hopes to allocate the remaining funds in the coming weeks.
Each year the ministry provides a daycare center budget for all sectors of society – 45% toward the general public, 25% to the Arab sector, 15% to the ultra-Orthodox sector, and 15% to the periphery.
The announcement came in the midst of registration for subsidized daycare taking place on February 4-22, at a cost of NIS 133 to parents.
The daycare system in Israel has been on the brink of collapse as organizations running the centers have complained of a lack of funding, low salaries and lack of qualified teachers and caregivers, and had threatened to shut down numerous centers as a consequence.
Last year, following a joint strike by Na’amat – The Women’s International Zionist Organization, Emunah and Neot Margalit – all of which operate daycare centers – the Social Services Ministry allocated emergency funds to temporarily improve the situation.
Some 120,000 children up to the age of three, accounting for roughly a fourth of this age group, attend state-supervised and -subsidized daycare centers.
For the thousands of parents whose children are accepted into the highly sought after daycare centers, the government provides yearly subsidies totaling some NIS one billion.
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 state.