The challenge these services face is complex. The proportion of households, children, and elderly under the poverty line has been rising in recent years and the monthly unemployment reports show many localities with unemployment rates between 10 and 20 percent.
The personal social services have a critical role to play at the present time. They should, above all, reflect the state’s ability to assure the welfare of needy inhabitants by supplementing the universal social services. Many population groups, it turns out are unable or find it difficult to cope and their distress severely impairs their functioning, quality of life and impedes their social integration. The main groups at issue are the elderly, children at risk, teens in distress, battered wives, single-parent families (usually single-parent mothers), families in crisis, persons with disabilities, the mentally retarded, recent immigrants who have not achieved occupational and social integration, ex-convicts, drug addicts, and “street people.”
This chapter begins with a general survey of the personal social services by main areas of activity, including the quantitative dimension of expenditures. Part 2 focuses on main issues in the structure and functioning of the services and their ability to fulfill their tasks. In Part 3 the discussion is expanded and several important policy recommendations are offered.
This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, Israel’s Social Services 2005, Yaakov Kop (editor).