Arab local authorities in Israel have a severe shortage of day care centers. For every 20 day care centers in Jewish towns in 2016, there was one in an Arab town. The government and Arab local authorities now understand that not building day care centers prevents many Arab women from joining the labor force and exacerbates the disparities between Arab society and Jewish society in Israel.
Despite increasing awareness of this problematic issue, in the last few years, only few daycare centers were opened in Arab towns. Today, the vast majority of Arab children between birth and three years-old remain with no subsidized daycare centers.
We work closely with a cadre of Arab local authorities to provide all the assistance they need to resolve existing barriers; meantime we are also leading a determined, sustained advocacy effort directed at the relevant government ministries and Knesset committees.
During the last years, we have focused substantial energy on identifying the existing barriers to planning and building day care centers and on formulating policy recommendations to deal with those barriers: In 2010, Sikkuy reported on its research into this issue in a policy paper “From Barriers to Opportunies,” and was able at the time to lobby successfully for revocation of the requirement that the Arab local authorities, all of which are strapped for funds, participate financially in day care center construction costs. At the end of 2014, Sikkuy was a partner in organizing a round table that convened an unmediated discussion between the Arab local authorities and the relevant government bureaucrats, following which many barriers to planning of day care centers in Arab towns were removed, and numerous applications were made for funding the construction of more centers in Arab local authorities. In the beginning of 2018, the Ministry of Welfare had authorized our recommendation to allocate a specific budget for Architectural planning of daycare centers in Arab towns (to LA which lack a designated budget for this purpose) with a budget of 23 million NIS. In the near future we intend to publish a comprehensive study examining the remaining barriers impeding the construction of day care centers in Arab local authorities and hope to catalyze a much-needed breakthrough.