Promoting optimal cognitive, emotional, social and physical development of infants and toddlers among the Bedouin in the Negev.
Early childhood is a critical stage in a person’s development, affecting the course of his or her life. However, education, welfare and health services are struggling to keep up with the fertility rate in Bedouin society, which stands at 5.45. The rate of participation in government-run programs is about 5% of all toddlers and infants, compared to 25% in the general population. The health care system also lacks services to meet the needs and demands of the Bedouin community, where 66 nurses and medical professionals and seven doctors provide care to 35,000 babies and their parents.
The program, which was approved in 2018, includes five strategic objectives: parent-child relationships; early childhood care and education projects; improving community life and the environment; training professionals; and helping young children with problems in development. Six months later, a working plan was presented for each objective along with a proposal to create a joint data base. A team of partnering organizations and representatives from Bedouin society and universities was assembled to evaluate and implement the program, and a survey was conducted among the population to pinpoint needs.