People with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) are far from the public spotlight and aren’t fully benefitting from the very programs designed to help them. Yet, despite assumptions that they simply don’t need these services, my research at MJB shows that people with IDD and their families really need help.
My name is Yoav Loeff. During my seven years as an MJB researcher, I have felt it my responsibility to understand whether vulnerable populations receive the help they need to better integrate into society.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) decided to examine the gap between those diagnosed with IDD and those actually participating in housing, employment, recreation, and other services. Its mapping of the gap in the Haifa and Northern district confirmed this discrepancy. 25% of people with IDD remain outside of the services intended for them – and MOLSA asked MJB to investigate why.
Initially, even contacting family caregivers of people with IDD was a challenge: some hadn’t heard from social services for years, and others didn’t want to. Through our persistence and mediation by the local social services, we succeeded in getting answers about the needs of people with IDD and their families, whether they were benefiting from non-Ministry programs, or if they were managing without social services.
Our findings were significant:
- For 98% of people with IDD, being outside MOLSA services meant staying at home without benefiting from other frameworks.
- 66% of caregivers expressed the need for the help that their family members are currently not receiving.
- They were not using Ministry services for 3 main reasons: (1) they did not receive the specific help requested, (2) they were unfamiliar with what was available, or (3) the services offered were unsuitable for their family member.
- Minorities and immigrants and are more likely to be uninvolved; Muslims, and Jews from the former Soviet Union and Africa are over-represented among those outside frameworks.
We recommended constructive steps to MOLSA: raising awareness of existing services, creating more flexible recreation services, improving contact with local social services, and understanding the specific needs of minorities and low-income populations.
To me, this is the beauty of MJB’s research: we point the way forward to best help people who cannot always ask for help themselves, such as people with IDD.