Research shows that in the early years, especially from pregnancy to age two, babies develop fundamental abilities and skills (social, emotional, physical and cognitive) that affect them for the rest of their lives. Environment plays a critical role in the quality of their development. An environment that is healthy, secure, encourages positive relationships with parents and caregivers, and offers proper nutrition, stimuli and learning opportunities, enables children to attain their full potential. A child deprived of these will, over time, require more intensive intervention to bridge the gaps that have been created.
There is a strong correlation between a family’s socio-economic status and its ability to provide children with optimal conditions for development. The gaps between stronger populations and underserved and marginalized populations begin in pregnancy and widen as the child grows. Our aim is that every child, in particular those from underprivileged backgrounds, be provided with the best conditions for healthy development.
We have identified two major areas for our support that contribute most significantly to creating a nurturing environment:
Parents and Families
The primary influence in a child’s early life is parents and family. Parents require support systems to help cope with the emotional challenges of parenting, learn how to identify and provide for their children’s needs, and to foster the creation of a secure bond and parenting practices that advance their children’s development.
Our efforts thus far have consisted of fortifying the existing system of Well-Baby Clinics and turning into a national infrastructure and a nexus of support for parents, strengthening voluntary community infrastructures for assisting women postpartum, and promoting the development of parenthood preparation workshops.
Quality of Care Frameworks
Infants are deeply influenced by the quality of the framework in which they spend their time. In Israel only 24% of children 0-3 are in supervised daycare facilities. For the rest, it is estimated that most are in private settings that do not maintain standards for quality of care or train and upskill caregivers.
Despite current government efforts to increase supervision in some of these frameworks, we have concluded that there is a need to improve the quality across the board. We are working to create community and regional models that afford caregivers access to professional development and participation in professional communities that will help improve the quality of care, as well as raising community awareness of the crucial importance of early childhood. Yad Hanadiv’s Early Childhood Programme is also supporting the formulation of voluntary standards for quality of care and fostering their adoption.
Detection and Treatment of Developmental Delays
When concerns arise regarding the pace of a child’s development, early diagnosis and treatment are essential to achieve effective results. We are exploring ways Yad Hanadiv can contribute to improving and strengthening detection and treatment of developmental delays.
The Principles Underlying Our Activity
Our efforts in the field of Early Childhood concentrate on the period from pregnancy to age three and on underprivileged communities. We aspire to a holistic approach addressing a range of factors that impact a child’s environment (above all parenting, care frameworks and early detection and treatment services), as well the cultural context in which the child is raised. Learning and improvement processes are integral to the Foundation’s work.
We also support applied research on Early Childhood in Israel to enrich knowledge in the field and supply data to aid decision makers.
Yad Hanadiv's core strategies and major areas of focus
Quality of Care (Educare)
Most children in Israel from birth until the age of three spend the day in settings that are not supervised by any government or non-government body. Caregivers hired in these frameworks have no training requirements and do not undergo professional development; there is no supervision over them or official record of their existence. There are very few players or organisations in the field committed to upskilling these caregivers, yet we have witnessed both a need and a strong desire on their part to learn and acquire professional tools to improve the quality and professionalism of their work, and to become part of a professional community. We are acting on a number of fronts to establish such communities for caregivers, to make these frameworks sustainable and to raise parents’ awareness of their importance. These include:
- Increasing the ability to detect and treat developmental delays at an early stage by upskilling developmental treatment teams (WBC nurses, health professionals and paediatricians) and assisting families throughout the process to understand their rights and benefits and see treatment through to completion.
- Increasing literacy in Bedouin Society: linguistic skills and literacy develop at a very early stage in an infant’s life. Speaking and reading stories to a child is significant in building a firm foundation for reading, and to strengthening the parent-child relationship. Yad Hanadiv is contributing to a variety of initiatives to increase literacy levels in Bedouin Society.
Increasing support for parents beyond WBCs: we are acting to strengthen community infrastructures to support parents more generally and to develop and implement parenting workshops.
Yad Hanadiv's own publications and media, materials produced by our grantees, and other items we have found useful in our work