Understanding the evolution of national child welfare policies: The case of Israel

Shlomit Weiss-Dagan & Ram A. Cnaan - Children and Youth Services Review


Numerous models for policy analysis focus on understanding an existing or proposed policy. However, reviews of comprehensive welfare policies from a socio-political and historical developmental perspectives are rare. Further, most policy analysis studies are narrowly focused. Reading through many policy analysis approaches, we elicited five analytic themes that appeared in most and that are longitudinally socio-political-historical in nature: (1) the socialist/collectivist – capitalist/individualistic continuum, (2) transition from denial of child abuse and neglect to recognition, (3) the professionalization of care, (4) transition from out-of-home placement to community solutions, and (5) transition from first punishing, then protecting and providing rights. In this paper, we first present these five analytic themes with special reference to child welfare policies. Then, as a case study, we apply these themes to understand the evolution of child welfare policies in Israel. We refer to the wider gamut of social welfare that usually includes only child protective services while we also include child education, civil rights, child allowances, and social development policies. When the policies are children- and youth-related, some of the general policy trends take a softer, less-punitive, and expanding stances as compared to the welfare of adults. We conclude with suggestions regarding ways to analyze the evolution of other policies in other societal contexts.

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