Saturday, January 17

Municipal budget lies

The Hirsch Centre in Jaffa is a special early childhood development centre providing services to Jaffa's youngest: testing, communication and play therapy, parents' groups and more. The centre treats over 1500 young children from Jaffa annually.
The municipality has decided to cut its budget by 50%, stating the different health-funds will make up for the rest. During the preparatory budget meeting the municipal representative even stated they already had a contract with all major health-funds and were about to close contracts with the others.

If the municipality had a Pinocchio nose, it would be very long now indeed.

The municipality closed a contract with exactly ONE health-fund, the tiny "Leumit", which insures about 2-3 % of Jaffa's population and on average refers 1 child per year (out of 1.500 children treated annually at the centre) to the Hirsh Centre!.
They are not even close to making deals with the other centres who have stated they absolutely refuse to do so according to the centers general manager, Ms. Amal Tatour.
Moreover, if they refer a child the parents first have to pay a fee 0f 150 NIS per hour for which they will get, after payment, a partial refund of 100 NIS. Thus every hour will cost the parent 50 NIS, which is a lot when you raise 3 kids on welfare of e.g. 2000 NIS a month!.
In addition, the healthfund will limit the amount of sessions to about 10-15, even if the child needs more.

The implication is clear: poor parents cannot afford this kind of necessary service for their young children and will not take their kids under these circumstances. At an age when many development problems can be preveted Jaffa's young children from weakened families, will not receive the necessary treatment.
This by itself is a major infringement upon the human rights of these children.

But the danger is larger than that, amal Tatour pointed out: As the majority of the Jaffa population are poor, people wil stop coming to the center. The municipality will conclyude there is no need for the services, as their will be no clients and the center will probably be closed in another few years.

The municipality points out that in other neighborhoods the services in these centers are paid for by the health funds and the population, but Tel Aviv is rich, and Jaffa is poor. So that comparison doesn't go very well.
In Jaffa the drop-out rate from the Arab public schools is 53%. And preventing drop out starts at a young age: if dyslexia and attention span disorders etc. are detected and dealt with at a young age, much suffering at a later age can be prevented.
The proposed budget cut raises serious questions.
Perhaps the municipality LIKES to keep the Jaffa population poor and voiceless?

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