Covering an enormous range of disabilities, parents of children with special needs will have to do more homework in assessing the availability and quality of education for their children. All special education in Israel is free for children from the ages of 3-18. If a school does not provide and the government does not fund therapeutic services, a percentage of this money paid by parents is refundable by the health plans (determined by each health plan and estimated need of service). This refund is only given with proper receipts. Many services as well as medical equipment is provided by Bituach Leumi or the National Health Ministry. A child’s placement in an educational framework is determined by the Ministry of Education’s Placement Bureau (Va’ad HaSama). However, it is advisable to seek the objective professional opinion of a mainstreaming expert.
The special education law in Israel states that children should receive the most appropriate education for his or her needs and abilities. Practically speaking, however, as anywhere, the squeaky wheel gets the oil - the harder a parent or advocate pushes, the more services the child is bound to receive. Much of your work will entail making contact with the organizations and individuals who specialize in whatever type of disability your child has.
before making aliyah
• Speak with professionals whom you trust and find out what you should expect from and for your child in the future • Mull over the advice, prioritize and write down what is important to you as a family and to your child in particular • Meet with your local shaliach and ask where the services your child needs are most readily available in Israel. Get your answers in writing • Organize all reports from professionals that have worked with your child. They will be invaluable to you in determining placement, or eligibility for services.
Merkaz Harmony International Center for Inclusion, founded by American olah Joan Shrensky, offers a variety of programs dedicated to individuals with special needs and their families, opportunities and activities towards better inclusion in school and society. Contact: (02) 61-9929, POB 43208, Jerusalem, 91431. http://ganharmony.org/
Kesher is an information, counseling and support center which helps parents with tailor-made intervention and emotional support to overcome the bureaucratic problems of a fragmented system of services. It provides a one-stop source of comprehensive and centralized information center combined with a problem-solving approach sensitive to the complexity of parental needs. Contact : (02) 6248852 or (02) 6236116.
Bizhut, The Center for Legal Assistance for the Rights of Disabled Persons. Sponsors legislation for persons with disabilities. Contact : (02) 652-1308.
Tzahi works with parents, training them to be advocates, as well as representing parents whose children are called before the placement and appeals committee. Tzahi consults with professionals to evaluate the needs of the child and proceeds to look for the school best suited to the child’s needs anywhere in the country. Contact : Chaya Jagoda - Director, POB 80, Moshav Udim 42905, Tel: (09) 865-5203.
For information about occupational, speech and movement therapies, click here .
For information about learning difficulties and dyslexia, click here .
Last updated: Jan. 2006