bullseyeProgram Goal

Olim LaDerech is a child/youth-protection Family Group Conference (FGC) program that promotes an innovative model for families with at-risk children and youth. The program provides families the opportunity to formulate their own family plan for caring and improving their children’s welfare. This is accomplished in collaboration with extended family, friends, supporters, and professionals.

This pilot program is currently operated in several cities and towns. Its goal is to teach and practice the model, refine it, and disseminate it generally among social service departments, particularly among planning, treatment, and evaluation committees (PIECs). The end goal is the wide dissemination of the model on a national scale.

 

partnersStrategic Partners

The program is an innovative pilot managed in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, and JDC Israel – Ashalim.

The program is currently run in social services departments in select locations and may provide an alternative to planning, treatment, and evaluation committees (PIECs).

toolsImplementing the Model: Services

The pilot program is currently slated to run from 2018-2021 and include a total of 160 FGC processes. It is available in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, Ofakim, and Rishon LeTsiyon. Today, the program is ongoing in these locations and include referrals, coordination of groups and training courses for family social workers employed by municipal social services.

Moreover, three training courses have been completed for facilitators of child/youth protection FGC, which have included participants from a wide range of cultural backgrounds that are fluent in six languages. These trainings have produced a core group professional FGC facilitators with the didactic foundations and practical experience to begin helping families today. A group of facilitators also provides professional consultation for families as they undergo individual and group training by the program staff.

toolsDeveloping the Model at Mosaica

Family Discussion Conferences was a concept first developed in the 1980s in New Zealand. It has since been implemented in countries around the world including Netherlands, the UK, the US, Australia, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa.

In 2018, Mosaica launched Israel’s first pilot program, based on the child/youth protection family discussion groups of the Eigen Kracht Centrale Foundation in the Netherlands and adapted to Israeli residents.

The model is founded on the belief that families have the right and the responsibility to formulate their own plan regarding their children and how to ensure their future safety. Participants include nuclear family members (parents and children), extended family and supporters (friends or community members) that play a part in the family’s life. Professionals also provide the help and support needed to make a family plan.

All participants attend the entire process willingly and voluntarily. It is managed by a facilitator, a neutral and independent party responsible for preparing and managing the discussion.

The meeting is divided into three steps:

  • Step 1 – Sharing information, presenting the family dynamic, and raising concerns regarding the children’s welfare and the aid that may be provided by authorities and the community.
  • Step 2 – Writing the family plan addressing all issues of the children’s welfare and safety.
  • Step 3 – Approval of the plan by the party that referred the family and additional professionals. After the discussion, all attending must sign the document, including the timetable for executing each task and division of responsibilities.

Thus far, Mosaica has developed much of the content needed for the program, including an instruction booklet for child/youth protection FGC facilitators, online and frontal training for facilitators and a document setting forth guidelines for the relevant authorities.

toolsDisseminating the Model: Training

The Mosaica Family Group Conference (FGC) program aims to disseminate the model through courses for facilitators to gradually build a group of FGC professionals fluent in a variety of languages. It also offers professional training and workshops for social workers of municipal social services departments.

Mosaica seeks to promote the FGC language among planning, treatment, and evaluation committees (PIECs) nationwide and conducts designated mediation courses for PIEC chairpersons at The School for Social Work. Additionally, we provide support for team leaders in local social welfare departments and committee chairpersons to further promote the FGC approach and offer the mediation tools and methods necessary for its success.

Aside from these local activities, Mosaica is also active on the international stage through our membership in the European FGC Network and participation in international conferences on the subject.

toolsCase Study

A referral was submitted in the case of a 10-year-old child with a mental disability from a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) family in one of the pilot program locations. The boy attends a special education school outside his city with the help of a daily transport service. While discussing the case with the social worker that referred the case, the facilitator assigned to the family discovered that a suspicion had been raised regarding past or current sexual abuse during the ride to and from school. This had been one of the reasons for referring the family to the program.

The family did not cooperate with the welfare workers for years, fearing their children would be taken from them. This indicated a need to first establish a relationship of trust with the family.

The facilitator arrived at the first meeting in the family home and spoke to the father and children. The mother shut herself in a room during the meeting, refusing to speak to him. Later, when speaking with several people that supported the family, the facilitator was given to understand that the mother is more dominant in the household decisions and any effective and meaningful process would require first reaching her. Family supporters also informed the facilitator that the family obeyed the instructions of one of the community rabbis.

The facilitator contacted the rabbi and met with him, presenting his concerns for the boy and the ways in which family group conferences could help resolve the problem, promoting his welfare and that of his family. He then asked the rabbi for his help to enlist the family to the process. The rabbi agreed and met with the family to convince them they should participate.

Despite her apprehension, the mother did agree to speak with the facilitator during another family meeting. She began to open up, describing the family’s history and her own concerns, even providing the names of three additional significant people in their lives. One of these women was a nurse at the local HMO, which was important as there was concern that the child’s medicines were not balanced.

During the discussion, welfare and health professionals presented their recommendations for the boy’s medications. The mother discussed the matter with the nurse, already familiar with the preferred treatment and in agreement with the medical recommendation. Finally, the mother agreed that her son would receive the treatment plan, out of great trust for the nurse and her recommendations. It was also decided that a  designated budget from the program would be devoted to psychiatric treatment for the mother, with the approval of the program.

After many conversations, the facilitator also succeeded in bringing the person responsible for the local transport service to the conference to hear directly from the family regarding what the boy experienced and his parents’ fears. He agreed to address the issue and also offered a possible solution by providing a staff member to accompany the boy each day to and from school. The arrangement still continues today.

This case, which initially seemed like it would never translate into any real discussion or impact, concluded with meaningful and moving results for the family and highlighted the importance that supporters play in the program’s success.

document Studies on the Model

The pilot is supported by the Nevat Greenhouse Research Team at The Hebrew University.

Visit the the research page: https://nevetgreenhouse.huji.ac.il/kedem-project

So far, the research indicates an improvement in the level of child protection for the children in families that undergo the FGC process and formulate a family plan. It is evident that most families also implement their plan, and the model improves their relationship with welfare authorities and openness to receive aid from supporters and professionals. Study participants expressed a high measure of satisfaction from undergoing the program.

Quotes from study participants:

“Olim LaDerech is the thing that really helped me. Without it, I would be shut in my room in despair. The program gave me strength, real strength. It lifted me up. Despite that I look normal, inside I feel as low as you can feel, but I am trying lift myself up.” (Teenage Girl)

“The conference moved me in ways I can’t even describe…everyone was so invested in helping the family. There was a feeling that the family was really eager to start the process and begin rehabilitation. As if we had reached out a hand to them and they took it.” (Social Worker)

The Mosaica staff also took part in writing an article dealing with Children’s Participation in a Family Group Approach to Family Violence. The article was published in the Journal Sage Publishing and Families in Society: https://journals.sagepub.com/eprint/EXBQBPWXNHANM8JRD8US/full

teamProgram Staff

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Bat-ya Sharon earned a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a Master’s degree in Conflict Research, Management, and Resolution from the Hebrew University.

She began at Mosaica as the Intake Coordinator for the Mediation and Consensus Building Center in Jerusalem, a fascinating role that she has held for over three years. Previously, she had worked in the Foreign Relations division at the Hebrew University and as an IDF casualty officer, where she worked with bereaved families and wounded and disabled soldiers.

She is currently a mediator and specializes in resolving cases of disputes between neighbors because change can be accomplished and almost immediately, positively impacting the daily lives of people in their ongoing relationships.

In both Mosaica programs, she is a part of the team responsible for courses, training, workshops, writing materials, and documenting professional knowledge. She tracks the implementation of the programs and their success, leads forums on intake and education, and facilitates FGC (Family Group Conference) processes.

Anat Eshel is a mediator and group facilitator with over 20 years of experience.

During the previous decade, she specialized in family and divorce mediation. She managed the Ramle Community Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center for eight years and was one of the founders and managers of the National Association for Community Mediation. She has always been involved in developing mediation in Israel, specifically community mediation, and has worked extensively with the Rural Community Mediation Centers Forum established by Mosaica. She has also been involved in cultural competency programs and conducted training for police officers.

She is currently a senior facilitator at Mosaica and part of the management team of Olim LeDerech (Family Group Conferences). She teaches mediation courses and provides mediation training for the heads of Planning, Treatment, and Evaluation Committees.

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For more information, please contact: kedem@mosaia.org.il, or call: 02-673-2122