Preschool girl learning to stack blocks (illustrative)
Preschool girl learning to stack blocks (illustrative)iStock

MK Karin Elharrar (Blue and White) demanded Deputy Defense Minister Yakov Litzman (UTJ) retract his decision to end refunds for private child development services.

"This is an absurd and irresponsible decision which will cause irreversible damage to hundreds of thousands of children," Elharrar said. "Just last October, I held an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis these centers are experiencing and the Health Ministry's obligation to allocate 40 million NIS by the end of 2019 to provide a solution to the problem."

"Not only has not a single shekel been transferred, the Health Ministry went even further, deciding to cease providing refunds and pass the cost over to parents, who will not be able to afford the heavy cost of medical treatments.

"Deputy Minister Litzman needs to look the 22,000 children waiting for services in the eye and tell them why he decided to seal their fate in such a cruel way."

Currently, government-funded early childhood centers offer physical, speech, occupational, and other therapies for children up to age nine. However, not every center offers every service, and waiting times for services range from three months in the center of the country to a year and a half or even two years in the periphery.

Parents whose children have been on a waiting list for more than three months and who do not yet have appointments to begin receiving developmental therapies are currently able to request approval to find a private practitioner and receive part of the money back. This is especially crucial in Israel's periphery, where early childhood centers are fewer and farther between, suffer continuous understaffing, and even private practitioners have wait times of four to six months or more.