Child protection officers (CPOs) are at the forefront of efforts to protect children in Israel. They work under two main laws: The Youth (Care and Supervision) Law 1960, and section 368D of the Penal Code 1977. During the past 15 years, the consciousness of the public has been raised to the needs of children and youth in various risk situations, including children who need protection. Consequently, many changes have been made in both legislation and the system of services for these children and their families. These changes have placed additional responsibility on the CPOs’ shoulders and have necessitated changes in their staffing arrangements and work procedures, as has been done in other countries.
Until now, there has been no reliable database on the CPOs’ work. This study was the first to examine in depth the work of CPOs in Israel: the type and extent of referrals to them; the characteristics and training of CPOs; their roles and duties; their work methods and patterns of cooperation between them and professionals outside the social service system; and the division of roles between CPOs and other social workers in the social service departments. In addition, a review of the literature was conducted on a variety of topics, including the challenges and difficulties confronting child protection officers and alternative models for their work.
The study raised issues concerning the definition and limits of the CPOs’ role; the balance between their legal/authoritative role and their role as caseworkers; the division of responsibility among services in the community; and the division of roles and cooperation between CPOs and other social workers in the social service departments.
The findings and the literature review revealed a number of directions for continued development of the CPO network in Israel, including training and guidance for CPOs, improved patterns of cooperation between them and other services for children and youth, and clarification of their roles and tasks vis-?-vis other professionals with whom they work, particularly the other social workers in the social service departments.
The findings of the study have been discussed with administrators of the Service for Children and Youth of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Ashalim, and shared with professionals in the field. Based on these findings, the Ministry has decided to implement the “Hamagen” program to create a protective environment for at-risk children, which will improve and upgrade various components of Israel’s child protection system.
This study was conducted at the initiative the Service for Children and Youth of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.
Citations in the professional and academic literature
Alfandari, R. (2015). An evaluation of child protection reform in Israel (Doctoral dissertation, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)).
Gur, A., & Stein, M. A. (2018). Social worker attitudes toward parents with intellectual disabilities in Israel. Disability and rehabilitation, 1-11.
Gottfried, R., & Ben-Arieh, A. (2019). The Israeli Child Protection System. In National Systems of Child Protection(pp. 139-171). Springer, Cham.