Social Welfare Ministry preparing new 'basket of services'

Ministry director-general to 'Post': Work already under way to rewrite existing aid law, which was passed in 1955.

poor 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
poor 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Ministry of Welfare and Social Services is in the process of redrafting the 54-year-old law that governs the type of social welfare services provided to the public with the aim of creating a wider and more comprehensive aid package, similar to the national health basket, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovitch told the Post in an exclusive interview that as part of the government office's on-going reforms, work is already under way to rewrite the existing aid law, initially approved by the Knesset in 1955. "We believe that in 2009 there should be a more up-to-date social welfare law in Israel," Itzkovitch told the Post. "We need an updated version of that law, which will take us forward." In addition to the proposed legislation, which has yet to be approved by Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog or go through the standard stages of new legislation, Itzkovitch said the office was drafting a range of other reforms "that will take us into the new millennium." Among the areas to undergo changes are new guidelines on respecting the cultural sensitivities of Israel's immigrant and ethnic populations and a streamlining of the mode of operation for social workers. "It will improve our overall treatment and clarify for everyone what our role is in society," said Itzkovitch. A spokeswoman for Herzog said that the minister sees these changes as a very positive step towards modernizing his ministry and will most likely make a decision regarding the new legislation within the next two weeks. Itzhak Perry, head of the Social Workers Union, welcomed the potential reforms, also saying that it was a move in the right direction. "The current law is extremely outdated," he said, highlighting that the demand for social services has grown and the needs of the public have completely changed since the 1950s. "Many more laws governing the work of social workers have also been passed and the nature of a social worker's role in society has completely changed," added Perry. "We have very high expectations for these reforms," he continued, commending the work of both Itzkovitch and the minister.