The Parents as Partners project, established in 2004, is an innovative unique not only in the Arab Bedouin community of the Negev but also among the wider Israeli society. This community-oriented program utilizes a non-hierarchical approach and works to establish educational frameworks for children from birth to age three while involving parents in the entire process.
Over the course of the program, we have opened 21 “House of Mother and Child” centers in both recognized and unrecognized villages of the Negev. Approximately 315 children benefit regularly from the program, which employs 40 licensed caregivers and trainers.
The program combines a traditional approach, based on traditional, skills and knowledge, with cutting-edge child development practices and research. Further benefits are that the program provides training and employment for the Arab Bedouin women working at the centers and that the mothers whose children attend are therefore able to continue their studies and/or work outside of the home.
The women from the community working with Parents as Partners qualify as early childhood educators through a framework of professional training courses. After completing the training stage, the women establish and operate a 10-month program of women and children’s groups close to their places of residence. Meetings focus on a variety of relevant topics, such as child development, nutrition, home accident prevention and more. At the end of the training period, the woman, with the involvement of her family, renovates a building in accordance with the regulations of the Office of Social Welfare to establish a “House of Mother and Child” day care center. Each center is authorized to provide care for up to 15 children from birth to age three. AJEEC-NISPED provides ongoing professional supervision and mentoring, thereby forming a strong collaborative partnership between the community and the organization.
The Office of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Finance have recognized the program’s unique model as eligible for public funding.
A 2015 evaluation indicated
of the Arab Bedouin mothers who send their children to AJEEC-NISPED’s “Houses of Mother and Child” are either studying or working
only 12% of Arab Bedouin mothers overall.