In Israel today, there are roughly 1 million children from birth to age 6. About one-third of these children live below the poverty line (more than 300,000) and an estimated 175,000 live in "at risk" situations.
Early childhood is a crucial time in the development of social and academic skills. The years before first grade provide a foundation for every child's experience in school. Global research has shown that there is high return on investment for early childhood. Accordingly, JDC Ashalim develops programs to support early childhood education and care environments, training staff and working with parents to guarantee that children are prepared to succeed in first grade and beyond.
JDC Ashalim's programs educate parents, educators, and staff members who work with young children to recognize learning and developmental delays, encourage healthy habits, promote literacy, and strengthen parent-child bonds. Such initiatives include programs for first-time parents, home activities for toddlers and parents as well as training for social workers, daycare and preschool education staff to better relate to and communicate with parents. Through these initiatives, JDC Ashalim aims to ensure that every child can start school prepared, and can continue to receive the support he or she needs to succeed.
JDC Ashalim's goals
JDC Ashalim's Early Childhood Unit has set the following goals for improving parenting and quality of life for the most vulnerable children in Israeli society:
- Provide support and care for children aged birth to three and their parents.
- Promote identification and care within universal services for children and parents living in environments or situations that increase risk.
- Improve the quality of education and care services for disadvantaged children.
- Invest in human capital among early childhood professionals.