Assessment of Ashalim’s First Decade: Activities, Accomplishments, and Future Challenges

Some 360,000 children in Israel live in at-risk situations of various kinds. Since its establishment a decade ago, Ashalim has striven to shape the way that the public and decision makers perceive the needs of children and youth at risk and the way in which Israeli society and the service system respond to them. This publication assesses the first decade of Ashalim – a partnership between JDC-Israel, the government of Israel, and the UJA-Federation of New York. It examines the programs that Ashalim has developed over the years, new professional approaches, the impact of the organization’s work on the service system, and the challenges facing it in the future.

Ashalim has developed and implemented programs in a range of areas. It works in partnership with government ministries, municipal agencies, and NGOs. Ashalim has developed interventions and service models for parents, schoolchildren and educational staff, youth, special-needs children and their families, children from vulnerable populations (immigrants, Arabs, and the ultra-Orthodox), and children in out-of-home settings. Ashalim has also supported processes of planning and coordination in the local services, developed comprehensive community programs and helped develop and disseminate knowledge.

The report examines the impact of Ashalim’s work in a number of areas, such as:
Development and assimilation of innovative methods for working with parents of children at risk and educational staff working with children with multiple and complex special needs, developing models for continuity between out-of-home care and community care, working with youth at risk with an emphasis on positive development, and developing work methods to protect children with special needs from harm.

Dissemination and institutionalization of innovative programs: Some of the key programs developed with Ashalim’s help have been adopted as major projects by government ministries and are implemented with government funding.

Involvement in key policy changes: Some of Ashalim’s work is directed toward supporting and helping develop key policy initiatives concerning children at risk. These include the policy of upgrading and enhancing boarding schools in Israel; the Ministry of Social Affairs’ policy of reducing out-of-home services and developing services in the community; the strengthening of public health services as a key component among the services for children at risk and their parents; and promoting the involvement of children in making decisions that concern them.

Over the years, the work of Ashalim has been closely accompanied by a serious evaluation effort carried out by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute and other organizations in Israel.

The report also discusses key challenges faced Ashalim pursuing its objectives in the years ahead.