Advocacy leads to new legal framework in Israel

Through patient engagement with leading legislators, the Coalition for Education from Birth – formed in 2015 – has contributed to several major policy gains: in July 2017, Israel’s Knesset passed the Council for Early Childhood Law, creating a new body that aims to take overall responsibility for government services for young children; in 2018, Israel passed a new law giving the state responsibility for supervising providers of childcare to children up to age 3; and in 2021, responsibility for childcare passed to the Ministry of Education, enabling greater continuity of care.

Coalition unites diverse sectors of Israeli society

The Coalition was set up through a partnership with ANU – Making Change, with the support of the Foundation, to promote national policy that expands access to affordable, quality early childhood care for the half a million children in Israel from birth to age 3. The country’s first advocacy coalition on the early years, it has brought together diverse members of Israeli society – including secular and religious, Arab and Haredi – around a single platform.

Large demonstration initiated by the coalition on a central junction in Tel Aviv.

The Coalition is now recognised by decision makers and in policy circles as the go-to organisation for early childhood. It has met with dozens of Knesset members, participated in more than 20 Knesset meetings and attended several different government committees. It has elevated the early years in the public debate, with over 60 items appearing in the mainstream media, and mobilised thousands of parents to sign petitions, join demonstrations and contact their representatives. In 2020, the Coalition’s work was the subject of an in-depth case study conducted by RAND Europe.

A series of policy advances

The Coalition worked with the Council to define new frameworks to regulate services for children up to age 3. Previously, childcare providers faced no regulatory requirements. The Coalition’s activity also contributed to a decision by the Ministry of Welfare to raise the salaries of childcare workers and cooks, and approve the construction of 216 new childcare centres.

Photo: Courtesy of Ilan Spira

In 2021, Israel’s government transferred responsibility for daycare institutions from the Ministry of Labor, Welfare and Social Services to the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education already handles kindergarten for children aged 3 to 6, so responsibility for children from birth to age 3 promises to create greater continuity of care.

Yifat Shasha Biton, Minister of Education, says:
“The transition of early childhood education to become the responsibility of the Ministry of Education is a great, important and significant historical move. It will allow the education system to create an educational and systemic continuum from birth to age 18, tailored to the child’s needs at all stages of education, growth and development.”