Since the 1990’s, Neve Hanna has operated not only the family units but also three daycare units. 7-14 year-old children from low socioeconomic families who have experienced neglect or have been diagnosed as special needs children join the daycare centers. These children often display aggressive behavior, suffer from developmental, scholastic and behavioral problems and have low self esteem. Children on these programs are involved in the remedial teaching program, receive emotional support and take part in all social and leisure activities at Neve Hanna.
In 2004, Neve Hanna founded the Joint Jewish-Bedouin Daycare Center Path to Peace in memory of the late Hanni Ullman. At present, 14 children (7 Jewish children from Kiryat Gat and 7 Bedouin children from Rahat) attend this for Israel unique daycare program for teenagers. They participate in all the activities of the children’s home and receive therapies and supplementary tutoring.
Daily Routine: Children in the daycare programs arrive at Neve Hanna after their school day has ended. The Jewish children come from Kiryat Gat, while the Bedouin children come from Rahat. They have lunch together and then start group activity. One hour is devoted to doing homework with the help of counselors. Children then go to individual therapy programs or join leisure time activities and courses. After dinner, children are driven home.
Therapy Program: An individual therapeutic program is suited for each child according to individual emotional and academic needs and personal preferences. It is our goal to promote their scholastic achievements, to let them enjoy leisure time activities and to receive appropriate therapeutic treatments. Children in the daycare centers sleep at home and spend the weekends with their families. Neve Hanna social workers pay home visits regularly. Parental cooperation is critical for the success of this program in order to help children out of the crisis they are in. Regular meetings with parents provide assistance and parents discuss their difficulties in order to change behavioral patterns causing problems in familial functioning. After many years of experience operating the daycare centers, it may be said that both children and parents show satisfaction from children’s advancement and from the improvement in familial issues.
Two group leaders and one Israeli volunteer work in each group (the volunteers fulfill a vital role as “big brothers and sisters”). In addition, two daycare center groups get help from two volunteers from abroad (one from Germany, and one from the States.) The activities of the daycare centers in total are coordinated and supervised by a senior social worker, closely working also with therapeutic staff of Neve Hanna. Furthermore, our social workers visit regularly with the families and schools. They work with the parents as well as the teachers in order to overcome problems in the family and change the situation for the better.
An essential factor in the success of this venture is parents’ cooperation. They enroll their children in the daycare program as an active step toward a foreseeable change. They take part in a program designed especially for them, including joint parent-child-activities and future activities for parents only, aiming to bring together Jewish and Bedouin parents.
The family of the children attending the Daycare Centers, struggle with multiple problems. In order to keep them functioning as a family, they urgently need help. Therefore, the Daycare Centers are an important intervention, a kind of prevention. The children attending the Daycare Centers have different problems preventing them to progress appropriately in school and integrate socially, for example hyperactivity, concentration and attention problems, disturbed social behavior, aggressiveness and low self-esteem. All struggle in school, some even more since they have an immigration background (mainly USSR and Ethiopia).
The daycare program offers therapeutic treatment and scholastic assistance to children with behavioral and social problems whose families struggle in addition with a variety of different hardships. The Jewish and Bedouin participants form bonds based on mutual respect, friendship and acknowledgement of the other. It is thus that the two groups are brought closer in the purpose of fighting bias, establishing a liberal worldview based on values of international understanding, tolerance and pluralism among children as well as adults.
Each and every school year, we witness different developments and improvements on various levels:
a.) Children improve their school performance; some rapidly improve their Hebrew knowledge. They calm and settle down due to a steady, warm and loving environment. Therefore, they start to deal differently with difficulties, problems and challenges. They start to overcome disturbed social behavior patterns. Their roles within their families change and are characterized by a higher self-esteem and self-confidence.
b.) Their families learn to deal with problems thanks to the help of our social workers. They no longer ignore problems, so the situation for all family members improves.
c.) Each group grows closer and closer together, giving the children a much-needed sense of belonging and strength.
Neve Hanna works closely with the social authorities regarding the process of choosing the children, who will attend the Daycare Centers, as well as during the entire process of the year. The Ministry of Welfare provides the basic budget for the entire institution. This covers also for the general framework of the Daycare Centers, such as the expenses for the staff (the staff supervising the children in the afternoons, but not the social workers and therapeutic staff), transportation and meals. In order to run all the vital remedial and therapeutic sessions as well as religious and leisure activities, the parent-child activities and the summer camp, Neve Hanna has to raise about 35% to 40% of its running budget through donations. This is also the case regarding the Daycare Centers.
Neve Hanna applies each year to foundation and charity programs in Israel, Europe and North America to raise additional funds. Since the outcome is uncertain, Neve Hanna would not be able to operate on a steady base without donations it can rely on and be certain that they come in during a year of activity. With respect to this, the donations of the Friends Organizations forwarded on a regular base play a very important role and make up a substantial part of the 35% the children’s home has to raise every year. These donations support mainly the work with the children residing at Neve Hanna.