Women’s groups: Trajtenberg committee proposals lacking

Demand free daycare for children from birth; “a child is not born at the age of three,” WIZO chairwoman says.

stroller march jerusalem_311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
stroller march jerusalem_311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Three of the country’s largest women’s rights organizations joined forces Monday to air their concern over recommendations leaked last week from the government-appointed Trajtenberg Committee and demand that free day care become an option for all children from birth.
The Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO), Na’amat and Emunah have called on the committee, which is headed by Professor Manuel Trajtenberg and tasked with suggesting socio-economic reforms to improve the standard of living for lower and middle-class sectors, to increase investments in education, especially free or subsidized frameworks for babies and infants from birth through age three.
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“A child is not born at the age of three,” commented World WIZO chairwoman Tova Ben Dov, referring to the rumored recommendation that free education will be expanded to include three- and four-year-olds.
“It is the government’s responsibility to provide frameworks for children from as young as three to six months.”
According to Ben Dov, providing free education for babies and infants will go a long way to addressing the growing gaps between rich and poor in this country by allowing mothers to return to work quickly after giving birth. In addition, subsidized day care will provide financial relief to struggling middle-class families that pour all their earnings into private kindergartens, baby-sitters and child-minders.
Figures provided by the organizations show that out of 300,000 Israeli infants below age three currently in full-time childcare, only one third attend government subsidized day-care centers fully under the auspices of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. Most of the 1,700 day-care centers are run by one of the three women’s organizations.
Ben Dov estimated that the cost of subsidized day care in the government- run institutions ranges from NIS 1,800-2,200 depending on the age of the child. Private frameworks, including those partially supervised by the Labor Ministry, can cost a parent up to NIS 3,000 a month depending on where they live, though in most areas the average price is NIS 2,000.
“There has to be a government decision on this,” continued Ben Dov, highlighting that, on paper, laws already exist to include threeand four-year-olds into the free educational framework but only as part of the Economic Arrangements Law, which is amended each year depending on available government funds.
“For parents, the most expensive educational framework for their children is when they are under the age of three,” pointed out Emunah chairwoman Leora Minka. “When we met with the parents involved in [this past summer’s] buggy protests, this is what they told us – that they could not afford the high payments for pre-school.
“We want to see the government take responsibility for this issue, so that more day-care centers are built to help working parents,” she added.
Talia Livni, president of Na’amat, said that she was hopeful [the government] “would not miss the opportunity to create free education for babies and infants. “It is exactly the time when women are deciding whether or not go back to work after having a baby,” she said.
“There has to be a change in focus. This summer we saw hundreds of thousands of people get up and speak their minds. If real changes do not follow, then this government will fall,” she warned.