During a special meeting of the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, which was held as part of International Day for Persons with Disabilities:, Libat Kimhi, a 40-year-old disabled women , said: ”a few days ago the prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) said `there is a need for legislative changes because of things we discovered which contradict logic and compassion` – but he said this in regard to a biting dog that needed to be put in quarantine. We do not have that privilege”.
During a discussuion on community housing solutions, Sigalit Yahalomi, CEO of AKIM Israel mentioned that currently only 70 people with intellectual disabilities live in communities, while the rest live in residential care homes. ”. In response, Nachum Ido, director of supported housing services in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, said: ”We offer all families community housing, but all of them, excluding none, refuse. Regardless, we will add positions and budgets for the purpose of promoting community housing”. MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) said”it is no wonder that families are afraid of community housing due to the dismal options that are currently available”.
Susie Ze`evi, the mother of a 28 year old who requires constant nursing care, told the committee ”There are certain frameworks within the community that suit my son, but he still needs a caregiver throughout the entire day. The state decided that there is no option to fund a caregiver, and that is why, as of today, my son is living at home”.
During a debate on the issue of integrating children with special needs in regular kindergartens, the acting head of the committee MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Habayit Hayehudi) criticized the Ministry of Economy for not sending a representative to the debate. Moalem said that she would turn to the minister and the heads of the ministry.
Liron, who has a disabled child, said ”I received all of the necessary certifications, but the teacher refused to admit him to the kindergarten, claiming he has too many `issues`. The Givatayim Municipality referred me to a committee and claimed it was a mere formality. Later on, I realized that it was a committee for children at risk and I was asked if I was working as a prostitute or if I was taking illegal drugs”. MK Moalem said in response that ”the mere thought of someone even thinking that makes me think that someone at the Ministry of Social Affairs needs to go home”.
The director of the Ministry of Social Affairs` community rehabilitation services, Galit Geva, promised that the issue would be examined and added that ”we raised three million dollars this year, and in the following months we will increase the number of rehabilitating (not integrating) kindergartens from 86 to 105”. Attorney Revital Lan-Cohen, from the Parents` Coalition for Children with Disabilities, said ”the cost of a child in a rehabilitating day care center is up to four times more than integrating him in a regular kindergarten. It`s unthinkable that you are spending millions only to push these kids away from integration”.
A report published by the Knesset Research and Information Center shows that in the 2014-2015 school year, 1,080 children were eligible for an integrative assistant in day care centers. However, the Social Affairs and Economy ministries have no data regarding the number of parents that have issued such requests.
MK Moalem- Refaeli concluded the debate and said: ”the integration of children with special needs is of the highest importance in Israel. We must find a solution for each child, according to his individual needs”.