Derech Hamelech was first implemented in 2006 at the initiative of ELEM and the Juvenile Probation Service, with the goal of helping youth at risk to acquire tools and skills to prepare them for work life, while establishing a relationship of trust and support with a mentor. The program is based on a corps of volunteers who serve as personal mentors and support the adolescents at their workplace.
The following organizations are currently involved in the implementation of the program: the Juvenile Probation Service, the Service for Adolescents and Young Adults at Risk (formerly, the Service for Youth and Young Adults and the Service for Girls and Young Women), and the Youth Protection Authority at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services; the Kidum Noar Youth Advancement Section at the Ministry of Education; the Fund for Development of Services for Children and Youth at Risk at the National Insurance Institute; JDC-Ashalim; ELEM; and local authorities. The adolescents are referred to the program by the services, which continue to work with them during their participation in Derech Hamelech.
The evaluation was conducted in 2009-2010 in the 10 localities where the program was implemented. The aim of the evaluation was to provide the implementers with a basis on which to improve and expand the program. The study examined implementation of the program, the participants’ characteristics and the benefits perceived by the mentors for the youth and for the mentors themselves. Data about the participants were collected using a form completed by the service staff, which examined their socio-demographic characteristics and difficulties. Data about the mentoring and the perceived benefits were collected by a self-report questionnaire for the mentors. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with members of the program and service staff and in-depth interviews with program alumni.
The findings have been presented to the program staff and members of the steering committee and have helped to improve intervention strategies and upgrade the programs. For example, since being presented with the findings, the program directors have endeavored to standardize their strategies and the monitoring of the volunteers, using monthly meetings with the mentors and a summary report form for each meeting with the youth. The mentors’ reports and in-depth interviews with the adolescents and others indicate the importance of their support for the youth and the improvement in their lives, due to the assistance provided in various areas such as study and work.
Derech Hamelech is implemented in the framework of the Nekudat Mifneh umbrella initiative, which comprises 5 programs that work to rehabilitate youth at risk through employment and entrepreneurship experiences.
Citing suggestion: Vazan-Sikron, L., Ben Simon, B., & Kahan-Strawczynski , P. (2011). Derech Hamelech (“The King’s Way”) – Mentoring Youth at Risk as Preparation for Work Life: Evaluation Study. RR-596-11. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)