Posted by Sy Friedland, Chief Executive Officer
I was in Haifa, Israel last week working on developing a new project. There is a great deal of interest in Israel for finding and helping children at risk. The Shmid Initiative is a new effort to identify as many such children as possible, and to do more work with younger children. Our goal in working here was to develop a component that would focus on an area that at this point had not been addressed. The decision was to develop a parent focused program for families that would start at the prenatal stage and cover children up to the age of six years. There are two neighborhoods that are the focus of Shmid in Haifa: Bat Galim and Kiryat Eliezer. They are mixed neighborhoods that have a variety of ethnic and economic groups. They are also distinct because of geography, being bounded on one side by the Mediterranean and on the other side by the base of the Carmel Mountain.
We have been meeting with people from the educational and social welfare systems, as well as members of Haifa University. We also want to partner with national organizations and had meetings in Jerusalem for this purpose. It has been particularly gratifying for me to hear frequent mention of programs in Israel based on our Lauren and Mark Rubin® Visiting Moms model; we established such programs in Jerusalem and Haifa. The Jerusalem program is called Mom to Mom and The Nest is the Haifa program. They are well known.
We have a ways to go in getting to the final program. We have to do more "mapping." That is, research into the target population in terms of needs, gaps, and what are the identified services parents see as needed. We are also doing a review of existing parent programs in Israel and looking to the literature to tell us what might be innovative and effective.
It is always exciting to come here and do this work. By now we have a good working relationship with our Israeli colleagues, and there is an openness to new ideas that is really refreshing. I will keep you up on the progress of this interesting effort.
I am a clinical psychologist by training and for the last 16 years have been the CEO of JF&CS of Greater Boston. I am interested in photography, art, and music. I try to combine these with a great deal of enthusiasm about travel. Visit my blog, WorldWideSy.