Former Miftanim Students: A Follow-up Study

Miftanim are day educational-rehabilitative-therapeutic programs for youth who have family, emotional, social and scholastic difficulties and cannot adjust to the regular school system (including vocational schools). The Miftanim are operated in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Service for Youth Rehabilitation and the SHAHAR (Education and Welfare Services) branch of the Ministry of Education.

This report presents, for the first time, findings of a follow-up study of Miftanim students. The study follows a previous study that was conducted in 1994-1996 in six Miftanim programs. In the current study, interviews were conducted with 306 young people from these six Miftanim programs who had left Miftanim two to six years previously.

The study, which is one of the few follow-up studies of youth at risk conducted in Israel, examines the perceptions of former Miftanim students of the time they spent at Miftanim; their achievements at Miftanim (graduating and obtaining certificates); their subsequent integration into and achievements in school, employment, and the army; their well being at the time of the interview in the areas of employment, family and receiving assistance; and their satisfaction with their social status. Finally, it examines the connection between their achievements since they had left Miftanim and their well being at the time of the interview and various characteristics (the circumstances surrounding their leaving Miftanim, their age at the time of the study, their performance at Miftanim, etc.). Among the findings:

  • Miftanim are perceived by the students as warm and supportive frameworks. Nevertheless, students express disappointment that the learning tools taught in these frameworks do not allow them to integrate into the employment they desire.
  • About one-third of the former students had gone on to study in some framework after they had left Miftanim. About 8% had left to study in normative frameworks but only about 3% had graduated these frameworks.
  • About two-thirds had held a steady job or served in the army for at least a year since leaving Miftanim.
  • At the time of the study, 47% of the former students were working, 12% were serving in the army, 8% were studying (4% were both studying and working). About one-third were at home without an occupation. Another 6% were stay-at-home mothers. In general, girls stayed longer and obtained more certificates in Miftanim, but, as adults, were less integrated into employment or studies.
  • Some of the former students were in distress and disengagement at the time of the study: One-fifth had been unable to integrate into any framework (school, employment or military) since leaving Miftanim, one-fifth reported having no one with whom to share what they were going through.

The findings of the study suggest several directions for action with regard to the future work of Miftanim and other organizations serving youth with adjustment and learning difficulties. Among these are promoting the teaching of learning skills and support for, and preparation of, students who are leaving Miftanim for integration into school, the army, employment, and their lives as young adults.

The findings were discussed with the administration of the Service for Youth Rehabilitation, and they serve as the basis of continued development of the Miftanim system. The study was initiated by and conducted with the support of the Department of Research, Planning and Training of the Ministry of Social Affairs.