Principles of Best-Practice, Culturally-Competent Work with Ethiopian-Israeli Maltreated Children, Using the Method of Learning from Success

This book marks a collaborative effort by the Haruv Institute, the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute (MJB); and social workers and para-professionals from Ethiopian-Israeli community who work in Social Service Departments (SSDs). The goal of the book is to promote therapeutic work with Ethiopian-Israeli children suffering from abuse and neglect. The project was one of many efforts invested by Haruv to instill cultural competence in the area of child protection and development.

In 2015, Haruv asked the Unit for Learning from Success and Ongoing Collaborative Learning in Human Service Organizations at MJB to conduct a structured, systematic process of identification, inquiry and documentation of success stories concerning best-practice, culturally-competent work with Ethiopian-Israeli maltreated children. The seven success stories presented in the book were selected by the Ethiopian-Israeli social workers and para-professionals that participated in the “learning from success” group, led by an MJB learning companion. The process of inquiry, which followed the Retrospective Method of Learning from Past Success and was developed at MJB, exposed the professional knowledge that, largely, had been tacit and undocumented.

From the seven success stories, 19 action principles common to all the stories were identified, including:

  • A respectful attitude toward clients and ensuring their involvement in decisions affecting their, and their children’s, lives
  • Slow and gradual progression in the therapeutic process, at a pace dictated by the client, sometimes amid readiness to accept temporary setback in the situation of the children or family
  • System-wide work amid cooperation with additional professionals inside and outside of the SSDs
  • Use of the authority of partner professional caregivers to create meaningful change in the situation of the clients
  • Considerable investment in the process of building trust.

The book consists of three chapters. The first depicts the underlying conception of learning from success,  the retrospective method and its implementation. It also presents a literature review on the topic of the maltreatment and neglect of children and youth and how the service system copes with the provision of responses to the Ethiopian-Israeli community. The second chapter presents the action principles. The third chapter presents the seven stories in detail.

The insights presented in the book will serve as a basis for training of professionals in SSDs and other frameworks. They are relevant not only for work with the Ethiopian-Israeli population, but for other populations as well.