In 2011, CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection launched the Parents at the Center (PAC) program in Haifa. At the time, services for struggling families in Israel were aimed at children alone. Acknowledging that parents are the single most influential factor in the life of a young child, PAC focused on supporting and empowering entire families — across all incomes, education levels, and ethnicities.
PAC serves multicultural neighborhoods, where many parents are new immigrants who face language barriers, cultural differences, and education deficits that impact their children in a variety of ways. In addition to offering a safe space for parents to discuss the challenges and joys of childrearing, the program also includes culturally sensitive prenatal education, in-home mentoring, and training for social workers, teachers, and nurses.
Operating out of a renovated facility, the original PAC location has served 3,500 people from more than 1,000 families since opening its doors. The incredibly high reach of this program prompted the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Ministry of Education to pilot the program across Israel in 2015. In the past five years, the program has expanded to a second Haifa location and seven new cities. At the national level, the PAC model is now available for countrywide implementation through the Ministry of Education.
All PAC sites are now thriving and well-positioned for long-term success — and, in turn, transforming the way parents and families are supported across Israel. With strong governmental and agency support in place, CJP’s direct involvement in the program ends this year. “This was our goal from the beginning,” said Ariel Libhaber, Director of CJP’s Boston-Haifa Connection. “We wanted to pass on a successful program that the Israeli government and our partners could expand and sustain.”