Welfare ministry redrafting social law

"In 2009 there should be a more up-to-date social welfare law in Israel," D-G Itzkovitch tells 'Post.'

Isaac Herzog 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Isaac Herzog 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Welfare and Social Services Ministry is in the process of redrafting the 54-year-old law governing the 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. While the specifics of the new law, which has yet to be approved by Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, were not disclosed, Ministry Director-General Nahum Itzkovitch told the Post that the new law was part of the ministry's ongoing reforms. He said work was already under way to rewrite the existing aid law, which determines services such as those for the mentally ill, children and youth at risk, battered women and for the elderly and was passed by the Knesset in 1955. It does not include the benefits provided by the National Insurance Institute, but will clarify those provided by social workers nationwide. "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 that will take us forward." According to social workers in the field, the basket of services needs to be better clarified because individual supplementary laws approved over the past 50 years by the Knesset are in some cases unclear, if not contradictory; moreover, there are no resources to implement many of them. In addition to the proposed legislation, Itzkovitch said the office was also drafting a range other reforms "that will take us into the new millennium." The changes include 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 he 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, saying they were a move in the right direction. "The current law is extremely outdated," he said, stressing that the demand for social services has grown and the needs of the public have completely changed since the 1950s.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 Herzog.