COMMUNITY-BASED INFANCY INITIATIVE
The initiative seeks to maximize the potential of children by ensuring their wellbeing and optimal development in the first years of life, and specifically in infancy (birth-3). This is in view of the lifelong impact of this critical period on cognitive, emotional and social development, and consequently on the children's future social mobility.
The responsibility for early childhood in Israel is currently divided between several government ministries, without a coordinating body that ensures the service continuum; a similar situation exists on the municipal level too. The efforts to address this challenge in recent years have gained momentum following the establishment of the Early Childhood Council, whose goal is to advance inter-ministerial policies.
The new initiative joins this drive, aiming to define the basic services that are necessary for optimal development of infants and toddlers, including the role of a municipal Early Childhood Director. It also works to increase awareness of the importance of investing in infants and focuses on developing services for this age group and their parents, both at the local and national levels.
The basic premise of the initiative is that nurturing optimal development requires a comprehensive approach with multi-system coordination, which connects the caregivers (parents, educators and professionals) through a common language, and that the local authority is the appropriate arena for implementing such an approach.
Pilot program communities
Northern Israel – Hatzor HaGlilit, Ma’alot-Tarshiha, Tamra, Safed
Southern Israel – Arad, Kiryat Malachi, Segev Shalom, Yeruham
Viewing the local authority as responsible for providing quality services to its residents, the initiative aims to generate systemic change in how infancy is perceived and handled. It is designed to make an effective use of community resources, knowledge and services to answer the needs of children and parents, from universal services such as family health centers, daycare and early childhood centers, to specialized solutions for populations with special needs.
A key element of the model is forming an integrative framework headed by a municipal early childhood director, who promotes coordination and cooperation among all fields of activity:
Parents - multi-disciplinary work with parents and families
Daycare settings - implementing standards to improve education and care
Professionals - developing a common language for all early childhood personnel