Jerusalem Protection Center for Children and Youth, An Innovative Service for Initial Intervention with Child Victims – Evaluation Study

Children who are victims of sexual and other offenses must go from one agency to another to file the complaint, undergo the child forensic interview and meet with the social services. Often, these services do not coordinate their actions to take into account the needs of the criminal investigation, on the one hand, and of the child and family, on the other. The Jerusalem Protection Center is an innovative service aimed at improving the quality of the initial intervention with children who are victims of criminal offenses and with their families. The Center was established in 2002 by a steering committee consisting of representatives from Ashalim, the Ministry of Social Services and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the City of Jerusalem. The Center’s establishment was made possible thanks to the Shusterman Foundation. It is staffed by child-protection officers, a child forensic interviewer from the Ministry of Social Services and Social Affairs, a youth investigator from the Israel Police and a housemother. Also involved are an attorney from the Ministry of Justice and a physician from Hadassah Hospital. The Center makes it possible to conduct all stages of the investigation of minor-victims under one roof, in a pleasant, respectful atmosphere, and under the observation of a police investigator. The Center’s intervention includes an assessment of the condition of the child and family, crisis intervention, and referral of the child and family to the necessary services in coordination with the Social Services Department.

This report summarizes the findings of an evaluation study of the Protection Center, carried out in 2002-2005. Its goal was to support the development of the Center and inform decisions about establishing additional ones. The study examined the characteristics of children seen at the Center, the extent of referrals, the Center’s interventions, and its impact on the service system. The study also included follow-up of further treatment for the children after Center intervention ended, and feedback from the families on the Center’s intervention and outcomes.

The study findings on the Center’s initial years were discussed extensively and served as a basis for important modifications in its work, which contributed to strengthening the service. In April 2008, the Knesset adopted the Assistance to Minors Who Are Victims of Sexual or Other Violent Offenses Law, which stipulates eight additional centers, to be established by the Ministry of Social Services and Social Affairs and funded by the government. In wake of the law, the Shusterman Foundation expressed its willingness to continue to support the network of protection centers.

The study was initiated and funded by Ashalim.