Experts expressed little surprise on Wednesday after hearing about the latest case of a private nanny accused of causing severe head trauma to a baby in her care, saying it again underlined the need for licensing child-care providers.
The four-month-old girl was being treated at Rambam Medical Center after receiving a blow to the head while in the care of a 24-year-old nanny in Tiberias on Tuesday. A hospital spokeswoman described the baby's condition as stable.
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the National Council for the Child, said, "It seems that the more precious the age, the fewer rules and regulations there are in place. Not everyone is allowed to teach in a high school or in an elementary school, but anyone with a high school diploma can work in a pre-school and anyone with a birth certificate can be a nanny. We really need more regulation and legislation that will work logically with taking care of children."
The parents had taken the baby to Tiberias's Poriya Hospital Tuesday afternoon after noticing a variety of injuries all over her body. Sharon Sachar, spokeswoman for Poriya Hospital, said that when the baby arrived at the hospital she had cuts on her face, was bleeding from her ear and had bruises on her leg.
A CT scan revealed that there was also bleeding in the baby's skull that had most likely been caused by a blow to the head. Sachar added that the doctor treating the baby immediately called a social worker, who interviewed the parents. The parents directed the social worker and police to the baby's nanny.
The nanny, who has been caring for the baby for the past two months, told police that her own child, aged three, had thrown a toy that had hit the baby in the head. Police were still investigating the nanny's story on Wednesday.
According to research conducted by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, there has been an increase in the number of women in the work force and therefore a rise in the number of young children needing day care.
Yael Yosef, who has been a private nanny in the Jerusalem area for the past 20 years, said that she noticed a growing number of women working as private nannies and babysitters.
"Any woman who is a mother thinks she can take care of children," noted Yosef, "but taking care of other people's children is not the same. Working with a baby is a profession; you need experience and training."
Just over a year ago, Likud MK Ayoub Kara submitted legislation in the Knesset proposing that all child-care providers and nannies become licensed. The bill, drafted by Kara aide Shmulik Chafetz, was not followed through to become law.
"Licensing nannies is a complex issue," said Chafetz, a media consultant. "It is expensive and complicated technically." He added that the bill was put on hold because the wording meant it would become illegal "to have the 18-year-old neighbor over to watch the baby."
This latest case of suspected abuse by a child-care provider joins a growing number of incidences in Israel. In January, the cases of Ra'anana nanny Sima Kali, 50, and nanny to twins Galina Goriatzkin were heard in court. At the end of 2005, another private nanny was arrested in Herzliya on suspicion that she was beating the child in her care.
"In Israel, a nanny is not even considered an occupation; it is classed as hired help like a cleaning lady," added Chafetz. "Hopefully someone in the new Knesset will take on this issue."