Page 6 - מגידון
P. 6
jects and Programs - Education & Welfare

A warm embrace

Situated alongside each other on the Otzma campus (a steppingstone in the overall system of empowerment and reinforcement of
local families) are two after-school frameworks-the Otzma after-school club for children in the 1st to 6th grades, and Bayit Cham for girls in
grades 7-12. Social worker Liat Hadari-Karkoum, supervisor of the
Otzma after-school club and a family therapist, views both homes as a specific
component of the Social Welfare department's overall conception, namely:
each change must occur in the framework of the whole-family system. "The
Otzma club is operated by the Council's departments of Education and Social
Welfare. Its role is to supply a response in the form of informal education to
children in 1st to 6th grades who attend schools in the Regional Council. The
families of the targeted children are recognized by the Social Welfare depart-
ment as suffering from economic, functional and family difficulties among
others," explains Liat. "There are 15 girls and boys at the club, which operates
five days a week, from the end of the school day until 5 p.m., as well as on
school holidays. The children at the club receive a hot meal, scholastic sup-
port and assistance, enrichment programs in sports, art and movement, and
participate in a group for acquiring social skills.""Thanks to the Partnership,
the club's permanent staff, which consists ofdedicated and quality individuals,
regularly receives training sessions that upgrade its quality and professional
level. The building that houses the club was built especially for this purpose
and includes a dining room, kitchen, and a computer-equipped activity room.
Alongside the club, on the Otzma campus, is Bayit Cham for girls, also made possible thanks to the Partnership. Bayit Cham is a follow-up
framework aimed at responding to the needs of girls in 7th to 12th grades who have been identified as high-risk." "The after-school club's
staff," Liat points out, "works in full cooperation with the schools and with Psychological-Educational Services. The families are embraced
from all sides and as a result we're seeing the children attending school and the club regularly. We are noticing improvement and progress
in their situations and functioning." "Our overall conception," stresses Liat, "views the entire family system as the framework in which the
change needs to occur. One of the conditions for acceptance of a child to the club is his or her parents' commitment to enter a process of
family treatment and guidance. This is founded on the understanding that changing and improving the parent and family system brings
about enhanced functioning of each child. Family treatment is administered in accordance with a treatment plan defined for each family
according to its needs." As to the question of what she considers to be an achievement of the after-school club, Liat responds: "The most
significant achievement is the full cooperation and attendance of one-hundred percent of the parents in each activity they are asked to
take part in. The parents' presence is very tangible at the club. We feel their high level of commitment to work with us for the benefit of the
children." "Another achievement as far as I’m concerned," continues Liat, "is to see the mothers-safe in the knowledge that their children
are devotedly being taken care of until the afternoon hours-getting out of the house, escaping the cycle of unemployment and poverty,
and joining the labor force. The Partnership allows us to fulfill the vision of supplying a comprehensive response to families, empowering
them, and enabling them to emerge from a cycle of neediness and begin operating out of personal and family strength."

Enveloped in love

The fittingly named Bayit Cham ("warm house") is an after-school club for a group of 15 at-risk, adolescent girls in grades 7th-12th. The girls
come from low socioeconomic backgrounds and struggle with their social functioning, have difficulties in school and the like.
Efrat Agra, director of Bayit Cham and a social worker by profession, is approaching the end of her maternity leave. She is presently be-
ing replaced by Sivan Baratz, a social worker herself. “Bayit Cham is open twice a week, from the afternoon to the evening hours,” Sivan
explains, “and it meets four key needs: Nourishment – the girls are provided with a hot, home-cooked meal that is freshly prepared daily by
the housemother. Help with schoolwork – assistance is provided by a counselor or volunteer proficient in the school material.
Social activities – such as external classes, workshops and social activities conducted by the staff of Bayit Cham.
Emotional support – the girls are guided and supported by a social worker who meets with them in private sessions and discussions, facili-
tates contact with their parents, mediates with various community entities, etc.”
“We see girls who have major social difficulties in school, for example,”says Sivan,“but with the support of our staff, they are eventually able
to create positive social contacts. We also see girls who have complicated relationships with their parents. Sometimes the social worker
steps in and is able to facilitate and improve the home situation.
“We have issues with girls who stop showing up,” explains Sivan, “and ‘courting’ them is vital. The welfare authorities, the school and other
entities are constantly kept in the picture and are continually updated so that a girl who disappears won’t just “crash and burn”. She is lov-
ingly embraced here and we search for ways to help her, through other programs and frameworks as well.”
“Bayit Cham is an after-school club operated by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services,” Sivan sums up, “but the budget we have
is quite skimpy. With the financial support of the Federations however, we are able to provide ‘extras’, such as trips, workshops (for example
group dynamics conducted this year by a graphologist), outdoor activities on holidays, and transportation to leisure and fun-days. Girls
who don’t have the privilege of engaging in these types of activities with their families are able to do them here with their peers.

6 Megidon | February 2015
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