Bill on Foster Care Favors Uncles, Grandparents

Bill approved by gov't committee would encourage handing over children to relatives instead of other families.

Hezki Baruch ,

Mother and children (illustration)
Mother and children (illustration)
Gershon Elinson / Flash 90

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved Sunday a bill submitted by MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) that would regulate the issue of foster care, and favor adoption by next of kin where possible.

The bill was passed in an initial reading in the previous Knesset, and the Committee voted to applied the “principle of continuity” to it, making it possibe to continue legislating it without having to go back to square one.

In the course of the discussion, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who heads the ministerial committee, was surprised to hear that representatives of the Justice Ministry had added, in the explanatory notes to the bill, that it would not apply in Judea and Samaria.

"I saw a comment by the Justice Ministry that is unacceptable to me,” she said. “This law applies and will apply in Judea and Samaria, and not by mistake. The residents of Judea and Samaria are warm eople who contribute a lot to society. There are many foster families there. I ask that this comment be deleted.”

According to information presented in the bill's explanatory notes, about 10,500 Israeli children are currently being raised outside their families. Almost 70% are sent to institutions and the rest to foster homes.

The bill states that currently, foster care is managed by several NGOs under the “loose supervision” of the Welfare Department, and the lack of proper regulations regarding foster care is allegedly what prevents more children being sent to foster homes, as opposed to institutions.

In addition, when children are raised by their grandparents or uncles, these relatives receive what is known as an “abandoned child” stipend, which currently amounts to NIS 1,982 and is much smaller than what foster families receive, which amounts to an average of NIS 3,700 per child.

This has created a situation in which many children were removed from their family circle even though they had relatives who were willing and able to raise them.