Wisconsin Plan kids get funds [pg. 7]

A representative of the Trade, Industry and Labor Ministry's Wisconsin Plan told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that plans were under way to provide summer camps and activities for the children of participants in the employment program. "We have already spoken with the private companies that run the program about providing summer camps for children of Mehalev participants [Mehalev is the Hebrew name for the Wisconsin Plan]," said Amichai Katz, contact manager for the program. "We do not want the companies to wait for participants to request the service, we want them to actively offer the service and we have guaranteed to provide them with the budget," Katz said. The ministry's promise came following a letter sent by Yedid, a non-profit organization that works to help the poorer sectors of society, calling on Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai to provide activity frameworks during July and August for children whose parents are enrolled in the program. "Last summer there was mass hysteria from the parents that they would have to continue going to the center during the summer even though their children were at home for the vacation," Ran Melamed, assistant director of Yedid, told the Post. "Many of them are single mothers and they had no one to take care of their kids. In the end, the centers told the mothers to only come back after September 1 when their children were back at school," he said. "I believe that by providing summer camps, Mehalev can combine several agendas," said Melamed. "Not only will the summer camps take care of the kids and provide something positive for children who have never experienced camp before, it will also succeed in building good relations with the mothers." The Mehalev program, which was started a year ago, requires participants to report to one of the centers - in Jerusalem, Hadera, Nazareth or Sderot - for at least 30 hours a week or forgo social welfare benefits provided by the National Insurance Institute. Still a pilot program, it claims to serve some 14,500 participants.