At-Risk Children and Youth: Results of the Identification and Mapping Conducted by the National Program for Children and Youth at Risk

The National Program for Children and Youth at Risk is one of the key social initiatives currently underway in Israel. Its goal is to change the way that Israeli society meets the needs of children and youth at risk and to enhance and strengthen the services for them. The program is being implemented in 70 localities, which are home to about half of the children at risk in Israel, and gives priority to Arab localities and localities with large concentrations of immigrants and ultra-Orthodox Jews. It is a collaboration of 6 government ministries and incorporates the principles of interministerial professional partnership, a standardized definition of children and youth at risk, commitment to new priorities, decentralization of decision-making to local authorities, systematic planning processes and the monitoring of outputs.

The National Program works at the local level according to a structured process of planning and decision-making, based on a model constructed and tested by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. The first stage of the process was to identify and map the extent and needs of children and youth at risk in all the localities. This was carried out by the universal services (family health clinics, preschools and schools) and community treatment agencies (the truancy service, social services departments, the Youth Advancement Service and the Juvenile Probation Service). In the second stage, the data was analyzed by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, compiled into locality-based reports, and used for training and for planning services adapted to the needs of the children and youth at risk in those localities. The information about children at risk is very important, firstly, because of its contribution to the structured planning of the services at local level; secondly, for the first time ever, there is now comprehensive and reliable data about the extent of children and youth at risk in Israel, and their needs and those of their families.

The report describes the extent and needs of the children and youth identified in the National Program localities, including demographic characteristics, risk situations and measures of the complexity of their problems. Among the main findings:

  • 156,024 at-risk children and youth were identified – 16% of all the children in the localities. 31% of the children identified are preschoolers, 38% are in elementary school and 31% are teenagers.
  • Before the services had been developed through the program, almost half of the children identified had received some form of service or therapy, most of them from one provider only.

The study was funded with the assistance of the National Program for Children and Youth at Risk at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Rubin, L., Belmaker, I., Somekh, E., Urkin, J., Rudolf, M., Honovich, M., … & Grossman, Z. (2017). Maternal and child health in Israel: building lives. The Lancet389(10088), 2514-2530.

Lifshitz, C. C. (2017). Fostering employability among youth at-risk in a multi-cultural context: Insights from a pilot intervention program. Children and Youth Services Review76, 20-34.

Michael, R. (2019). Self‐efficacy and future career expectations of at‐risk adolescents: The contribution of a tutoring program. Journal of community psychology.

Brody, D. (2018). Constructing Early Childhood Curriculum and Assessing Young Children in Israel’s Mosaic of Cultures. In International Handbook of Early Childhood Education (pp. 1191-1210). Springer, Dordrecht.

Meinck, F., & Steinert, J. Measuring and monitoring the prevalence of child maltreatment in the community: An overview of measures.

Lahav, C. (2014). OPERATIONAL MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES IN HUMAN SERVICES, AN ERA OF DIVERSITY & COMPLEXITY. Managerial Challenges of the Contemporary Society. Proceedings7(1), 68.