A local Rishon Lezion consumer group said that a poll it commissioned shows that at least a third of families in the city cannot afford to send their children to summer programs – leaving them to roam the streets during the hot days of July and August. The group said that those results matched polls taken in other cities, which found that many parents could not pay for summer camp and school programs.
Municipal camps in most cities cost between NIS 1,000 and 1,700 for a three week program, including transportation, lunch, and trips. For many working class families with several children in elementary grades, the cost of camp could equal a full month's salary.
Commenting on the issue, the National Parents Federation, which represents parents in PTA groups in schools, said that part of the problem was that summer camps were run by private organizations within the municipalities, not by the Education Ministry, and did not necessarily qualify for Ministry funds to defray costs. A spokesperson for the group said that one solution was to set up a network of private, competing camps, that would compete for contracts to be funded by the Federation, which would collect fees from parents. However, the spokesperson said, it was likely that parents would see a far lower price under that system – with fees as much as two thirds less than what they are paying now.
In an interview with Yediot Achronot, Dr. Yitzchak Kadman, chairman of the National Child Welfare Council, called the issue a “major problem. Many kids have nothing to do for two months because their parents cannot afford camps, and when you add to this the increase in taxes being imposed, the situation becomes unbelievably difficult for parents.”
In response, a Rishon Lezion official said that the prices for camp programs in the city were among the most reasonable in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.