One of the most important feelings a person has is a sense of home, a sense of belonging where a person can be themselves, with all of their failings and idiosyncrasies, and still be accepted. When that sense is lacking, the effects can be extremely harsh on an adult, and devastating on child.
In southern Israel, there are currently 144 babies and children who do not have a home and are currently awaiting placement with a foster family. The Summit Institute has been tasked with caring for these children and finding them foster families. While it is a lengthy process, Summit is committed to finding the proper home for each and every child and refuses to cut any corners that may later impact the quality of life for homeless children of Israel.
“The infants and children that we deal with are either homeless, such as in the case of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, or those who have been removed from their homes by social services do to abuse or neglect,” said Yoni Bogot, executive director for the organization, to Breaking Israel News.
“We do everything we can to match the infants and children with families who share the same background and culture as the child does in order to make the transition easier. There are enough other problems that will arise without bringing a child into a house that will have a different way of life than what they are used to,” he said.
Summit utilizes all tools available to them including social media, advertisements and word of mouth to find families interested in fostering a child. Once the family is interested, then the family must take the initiative.
“They have to actually pick up the phone and call us. Facebook messages and email inquiries are good, but they have to make the effort. This shows us that they are really interested, rather than simply having a passing fancy,” Bogot explained.
Following the the prospective family’s first contact to the organization, the family begins an almost three-month process of intensive screening and education before they are allowed to become a foster family. “They meet with professional social workers, alumni who were foster children, other current foster families, and have to undergo a number of activity and educational sessions that give them the proper tools to become a foster family,” he said.
The sessions are aimed at helping to weed out those families who may not want to actually become foster parents, or may not be able to do so even if they want to. “Good intentioned families will often pull themselves out of the process of their own free will, as they may realize that it will be too much of a financial or emotional strain. We don’t want to create a situation where there is too much of a burden on the foster family, or where they put a strain on their own family’s way of life. Those situations are not good for anyone,” Bogot said.
The dropout rate from the program is almost 95 percent with one family in 20 successfully completing it.
The search for the proper family for a child can be very taxing and costly. Summit foots the bill for all of the staff involved including; outreach personnel, social workers, educators, and administrative staff. Likewise, after the placement of the child, Summit is often called upon to help provide for the specific needs that each child has. Often these needs include things like extra school books or programs, tutors, dental work or extra health care coverage and the list goes on.
The government provides a stipend of $425 dollars per child every month which does not leave the family with much if an emergency should occur. To cover the extra expenses, Summit is often called upon and steps in help cover the cost of needs of the child.
With over 144 children who need placement this year, in addition to those already placed in foster homes, the organization certainly has their hands full. But the price of saving the children of Israel is never too high. For the organization strongly believes that every child saved is their own world, and saving one child means saving that world.