Parents & Children Together (PACT)
The PACT early childhood development program works to close performance gaps at the youngest age and give Ethiopian-Israeli children the chance to fulfill their potential. PACT offers a range of programs to ensure that the child's developmental, health, educational and literacy needs are met before entering the formal education system.
Recognizing parents as central to their child's development, PACT works to strengthen them in their parental role and help ensure a smoother integration for themselves and their families. Today, PACT is working in 14 cities across Israel reaching some 6,500 Ethiopian-Israeli children from birth to age six.
PACT in Lod
Lod is an Israeli city with large numbers of low-income families. 360 Ethiopian-Israel pre-school children in Lod are receiving the extra support they need to enter first grade on par with their Israeli peers - linguistically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially. Our UJFC support for PACT goes to the Lod program.
In addition, 150 Ethiopian-Israeli parents actively participate in a range of PACT programs, which strengthens their ability to nurture and advance their children's healthy development.
Programs initiated and sponsored by PACT include:
CBI members Ruth and Herb Hanft help with the unveiling of a plaque thanking the Jewish community in Charlottesville for supporting the PACT Center in Lod, Israel
One example of the PACT Program: Getting Shlomo the Help He Needs
Shlomo's parents were born and raised in small Amharic. Eight years after fulfilling their dream of immigrating to Israel, cultural and language barriers continue to impede their full integration into Israeli life.
In Shlomo's last year of kindergarten, while his peers were beginning to make their first steps towards reading, Shlomo remained unable to identify letters or numbers. Shlomo's teacher invited his parents to discuss the problem and told them that their child was most likely in need of specialized assistance, starting with a professional evaluation. Shlomo's mother was unwilling to allow Shlomo to undergo an evaluation and an argument developed between the teacher and Shlomo's mother.
The teacher turned to Tikva, one of PACT's Ethiopian-Israeli educational liaisons in Lod, for help. Tikva grasped the situation instantly. Like many Ethiopian-Israeli parents, Shlomo's mother was hesitant to subject her son to tests that she feared might brand her child as lacking. Tikva met with the parents and spoke with them in Amharic. She explained the exact nature of the evaluation and the ways in which Shlomo could benefit from treatment. Tikva promised to accompany the family through the entire process. Through Tikva, Shlomo's parents were able to make their concerns heard and to fully understand the need.
Literacy Enrichment in Kindergartens
At the beginning of the year each child is tested in order to pinpoint their strengths and weaknesses. The children are then divided into small groups of three to four children, and a work plan is devised for each group. Each group includes at least one child with learning difficulties who is not Eithiopian-Israeli.
Twice a week, an enrichment specialist comes to the kindergarten and works with each of the groups following the plan. This plan is updated monthly, ensuring that the work of the enrichment specialist is constantly in step with the needs of the children. At the end of the year, each of the children is evaluated once again, allowing PACT to track progress over the course of the year.
The children look forward to "playing" with the enrichment specialists, and often form a close bond with her in the context of the small groups. They gain self-confidence and discover that they too can learn to count, to name objects, and to take steps on the path toward independence.
PACT Lod at a Glance
The Joint Distribution Committee, which supports the PACT program, continues to monitor the development of the children participating in PACT programs in Lod in order to assess the effectiveness of the program. Over the past three school years, JDC has documented the performance of the same 35 children in one pre-school class. The results, shown in the chart below, demonstrate the tremendous impact of early educational intervention.