The National Council for the Child presented the 2017 Statistical Yearbook of the Council for the Child to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin last week. This was the 26th year of the event. Shockingly, the study found no improvement concerning children living below the poverty line.
At the gathering, held at the President’s residence, Rivlin stated that the government must allocate more resources to ensure not only the welfare of Israel’s children but also the country’s future. “Children are our most precious and important national resource – caring for their welfare is a concern for the future of society as a whole, and now our job is to do more for the future of our children, to allocate more resources in money and manpower,” he said.
Noting that nearly 900,000 children go to bed hungry each night, Rivlin stated, “it is very difficult to find out that the picture is bleak and the data are harsh.”
Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim, explained “each year the report is presented and each year the government states that something must be done. However, hungry children cannot wait for bureaucratic programs to be approved and implemented. Children need food today and every day.”
Vered Vindman, director-general of the National Council for the Child, presented the president with the report. Following the presentation, Rivlin defined what it means to be a child living in poverty. “A poor child is a child who goes to bed hungry. He is a child who comes to school without a sandwich. He is a child who finds it difficult to concentrate in school. He is in danger. He is a youth who goes out to work to help support his family, and [later] an adult who finds it difficult to escape the cycle of poverty. It doesn’t matter what his religion is or to what sector he belongs.”
With 33 percent of Israeli children living in poverty, immediate and urgent measures must be taken. Vindman urged Israel’s government to make child welfare a top national priority.
“We find that more and more individuals and families are needing our assistance,” continued Sternbuch. “Meir Panim, with the help of donations from our supporters, does all we can to ensure that people have food to eat and needy children are getting helped.”
Data for the yearbook was collected from the Central Bureau of Statistics, government ministries, and nonprofit organizations. It included not only statistics on poverty, but also information about children’s education, health, abuse and criminal activity.
“Our job – now – is to act; to do more for the future of our children. To allocate more resources in [the form of] funds and manpower to care for those who comprise more than a third of the State of Israel’s population,” Rivlin said.