In 2008 the Government of Israel decided to formulate an overall program to improve the absorption of Ethiopian Israelis. The ministries involved were: Immigrant Absorption; Housing and Construction; Industry, Trade and Labor; Education, Culture and Sport; and Social Affairs and Social Services (MSAS). In this connection, in 2010 the MSAS began to implement a Five-Year Plan for immigrants from Ethiopia known to Social Service Departments (SSDs). The program functioned in seven SSDs, in six cities.
The program targeted three populations and defined a primary goal for each: removing families without severe risk signs from the cycle of dependence on SSDs; improving the situation of families with severe functional problems; and advancing young adults by emphasizing education and vocational training. Two main modes of work were adopted: intensive personal support of every family or young adult by a coordinator or social worker, generally, a trained member of the Ethiopian-Israeli community; and participation in courses and workshops according to the needs and goals of each group.
In 2010, the Institute was asked to develop an internal database to assist MSAS in developing the program and monitoring its outcomes. The database serves as a broader evaluation of the program carried out by the Institute. This report summarizes the activity of the Five-Year Plan from 2010 to 2014, presenting the characteristics, needs, and changes in the program participants divided into three categories: 359 families without signs of high risk, 125 families with signs of high risk, and 180 young adults.
At the end of the intervention, some 85% of the participants had improved their functioning in at least one of the areas:
Families without signs of high risk : Main achievements – Balancing the household budget, better employment and Hebrew skills of parents. About 20% had their SSD files closed.
Families with signs of high risk : Main achievements – Greater knowledge of their rights and how to exercise them, better household management, and improved parental functioning.
Young adults : Main achievements – Expansion of one’s normative social network, improved employment and educational status. About 10% enrolled in higher education.
Unique work modes contributing to the success of participants:
Consistent and ongoing use of data on the progress of participants
A holistic view, with the family as the main focus of intervention
Adoption of a focused, intensive and task-oriented style of work with participants
Creating the position of coordinator – an academic other than a social worker
Use of professionals from the Ethiopian-Israeli community, which contributed to a successful intervention process with the families.
The findings were discussed annually with local and national program leaders and served as a basis for ongoing improvement and refinement of the model.
The principles of the program and strategies are consistent with the principles of the broader MSAS efforts to reform their work with families in poverty, and the experience gained in the program is contributing to these efforts.
The follow-up of program activities was initiated and funded by the MSAS.
Citing suggestion: Somekh, S., Nijam-Ektelat, F., & Ben-Rabi, D. (2016). Improving the Absorption of Ethiopian Israelis – Five-Year Plan of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services: Findings and Insights from the Follow-Up of Activities among Families and Young Adults. RR-715-16. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)