The Youth Rehabilitation Service (YRS) of the Division for Adolescents, Young Adults and Correctional Services (CS) in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services (MOSAS) implements therapeutic, rehabilitative and educational day frameworks for high-risk youth on the disengagement continuum. These include the four-year Miftanim frameworks, which combine education, preparation for working life and therapy, for which the Education and Welfare Division (EWD) in the Ministry of Education has joint responsibility; the Meitar multidisciplinary supportive day centers, which offer short-term intervention (up to 18 months); and the combined Miftanim/Meitar framework, which extends day activity into the evening using tools available at the Meitar. The frameworks follow the principles of the “therapeutic environment,” which includes a holistic approach and the provision of interventions in various areas of life; a multidisciplinary staff with a shared therapeutic language; inclusion of the adolescents in the devising of a personalized program; and outcome-oriented life interventions.
The study, which was conducted in 2011-2012, examined the needs and characteristics of the youth and the interventions carried out. It also examined the contributions the frameworks made to the adolescents from the staff members’ perspective. It followed several previous Institute studies on students and graduates of the Miftanim. The information was collected from the therapeutic staff in each of the frameworks about 600 adolescents. In addition, the directors of the frameworks and key personnel from the national divisions responsible for these frameworks were interviewed. Focus groups were conducted with adolescents.
Among the findings:
The YRS has succeeded in serving the target population – defined as high-risk youth. The adolescents were characterized by multi-dimensional difficulties: A high percentage of single-parent families with multiple difficulties (such as violence, criminal behavior); a high rate of risk situations (severe emotional-mental status and violent behavior); and poor scholastic performance (low achievement and frequent absence).
The staff reported that there had been an improvement among the youth with regard to reduced truancy and in socio-emotional areas, as well as a reduction in non-normative behavior.
Difficulty arose in adhering to the “therapeutic environment” principles, particularly with regard to including the adolescents in devising personalized programs and working according to them. This illustrates the need to provide staff members with tools for working with the youth in order to set realistic and measurable objectives in their personalized programs.
Additional recommendations to improve work with the adolescents based on the findings include strengthening the emphasis on study and employment and strengthening work with the parents.
The study findings have been presented in various forums and are now being discussed by the YRS and EWD staffs. They will assist the decision-makers responsible for the frameworks to formulate knowledge-based policy in order to improve the care and interventions provided to the adolescents in the frameworks.
The study was initiated by the Research, Planning and Training Division, and the YRS of the Division for Adolescents, Young Adults and Correctional Services at MOSAS; in partnership with the Education and Welfare Division of the Ministry of Education.
The study was funded with the assistance of the Harry Weinrebe Fund for the Advancement of Children.