Who Fears of Social Workers?
One of the most common problems for newcoming families with children is the system of social services which are responsible for the well-being of children in the family. The reason is the misunderstanding of how social services work; some "horror stories" myths which claim that here your child can be extracted from the family because of the slightest reasons that caused dissatisfaction of a social worker; an inability to explain the situation in a foreign language, etc.
When “Magen Mishpacha” NGO got a message from a mother, who was begging for help and support in the upcoming conversation with a social worker and was ready even to pay for a taxi from Jerusalem to Tiberias, where the family lived, our volunteers, constantly confronting with such things, immediately responded.
The woman got a message literally the day before that a commission on the behavior of her child and the possibility of her further residence in the family was expected at school. For her it was a bolt from the blue.
An elderly couple from Ukraine, desperate to have their own children, adopted a five-year-old girl with some obvious development problems (at the time of adoption, the girl could barely speak). The war in Donbass, which deprived the family of its home, life in rented apartments, and the oncological illness of the head of the family are only a few of the biggest problems that these repatriates had to face.
The move to Israel looked like a chance for a better life. The place of residence was chosen at random, and at first quiet Tiberias seemed to be a paradise for the family: no one shot, no one chased them, and the father had an opportunity to undergo a course of treatment.
But the daughter was expected to attend an Israeli school which meant a new language, a new situation and an ambiguous attitude of classmates. Naturally, problems soon began: the girl got involved into quarrels and fights, began to ridicule others (which is quite often a form of psychological protection for children in such a situation), and one day she broke from the hands of a teacher who had grabbed her too sharply and rushed straight to the roadway.
At first, teachers supported the parents, but gradually the attitude began to change. The mother was almost daily being called to school, because of what she, the only healthy person in the family, could not look for a job.
Due to circumstances, the girl’s parents did not have a chance to study Hebrew for ten months, and the mother communicated with the teachers through an interpreter, who was her friend, also a repatriate from Ukraine.
And then suddenly the call to the commission arrived. The mother was in terrible fear and panic.
When the representatives of "Magen Mishpacha" together with the mother crossed the threshold of the school, it turned out that not everything was so terrible.
First of all, the meeting of the commission was canceled. The pedagogical adviser of the school (yoetset) began the conversation with thanks to our organization and highly praised our activities.
The representative of the social services, who met us after the school visit, began the conversation with the question, "How can I help you?"
After a short conversation, a decision emerged - the family made a decision to move. For various reasons, Tiberias was not the most suitable "launching pad" for living in Israel for the family (including the daughter). Now Netanya was chosen as the moving point (no longer at random, but with a preliminary "study" of living and working conditions for the family, and the girl’s schooling).
Social workers gave an immediate helping hand: a modest (but far from superfluous) sum of 500 shekels and a new suitcase were given to the family.
But some tips were even more valuable: in the new place the girl, of course, would need to undergo the appropriate testing, so that it could be possible to decide what kind of specialized help she would need.
Half-an-hour communication with the girl let us get convinced that she did not have any development backlog - on the contrary, we were impressed by her rich and correct Russian speech - but there were certainly a number of deviations in her behavior that could be fully explained by the traumas that she had to endure.
The girl admitted that she could not study in a class of thirty people, as, by her words, "They all shout out there, everyone calls me names, attacks and offends. I can run fast, but sometimes I have to fight back ... "
It was great that the situation was resolved safely, but this case once again confirmed the importance and necessity of the integration work.
First of all, it is necessary to actively conduct explanatory work among the newly arrived repatriates. Israeli social workers should not be feared of. One should not regard the interference of social services into the life of a family with former Soviet stereotypes: this interference does not mean that the child is necessarily wanted to be withdrawn. Among Israeli social workers there are those who really want to help families, but do not always know how. For example, after half an hour communication with the girl in her native language we were able to assess, that she was able to study and actually wanted to, and that intellectually she could get ahead of many of her peers. Unfortunately, Hebrew speaking teachers and social workers not always can estimate it correctly - they only see that the child gets involved into conflicts, screams, ruins classes, and sometimes even fights.
But, as practice has shown, it is enough to have an experienced person who has a common language with both sides and helps them find a common language too.
Hence, the second point follows: there is a big need and importance of an accelerated procedure to accredit Russian-speaking social workers, - the point "Magen Mishpakha" fights for.
Using the example of this family, we got once again convinced that mediation between the families of Russian-speaking repatriates and the school or social services is one of the most important components of our activity, and we will proceed with it in this direction.