DECREASING CHILDHOOD DOMESTIC ACCIDENTS: THE FOUR-YEAR EXPERIENCE OF HATD-GRANTEE BETEREM
Healing Across the Divides has recently completed a remarkable four-year journey with one of our grantees – Beterem Safe Kids Israel. We are now attempting to expand the program to decrease domestic childhood accidents to other municipalities. Beterem leadership has shared with HATD some of the lessons learned from the childhood safety program that Beterem implemented in 3 different sites. These efforts garnered Beterem two prizes in recognition of the accomplishments of this initiative; the 2018 Israeli Minister of Welfare award, and the second-place prize for Excellence in Home Safety at the 2017 Safe Kids Worldwide Childhood Injury Prevention Convention (PrevCon).
Beterem staff are using the lessons learned to plan for the next phase of grants – a phase which the Israeli government is matching dollar for dollar with HATD.
In the village of Tur’an the intervention to improve child safety in the home was undertaken by grandmothers in the community, who were trained in child safety by Beterem, and was successful. The initiative examined the effectiveness of a home visit intervention program consisting of local senior women providing an evidence-based child safety intervention in a low-income Israeli Arab community. Another significant achievement was the empowerment of these women both to themselves and in the community. The fact that grandmothers were the ones teaching families about what they can do to reduce childhood injuries, accompanied by the appreciation of the population, generated a lot of pride and respect in the village.
In the town of Karmiel two groups were trained to do home visits – mothers and grandmothers. The volunteers who took part in the ‘Mom to Mom’ program noted that the training had given them new knowledge about child safety and the confidence to transmit that knowledge in their conversations with other mothers.
In the city of Haifa, we had 9 grandmother volunteers from the Ultra – Orthodox community. They were trained and conducted some home visits and were very committed to the program. The city department which had committed its support was not as engaged as in other communities; as a consequence the program ended shortly after it started. From these programs we conclude that a volunteer group requires significant local municipal commitment and engagement to make effective changes regarding child safety. An ideal is an alliance between municipality and local civic groups and/or individuals. The combinations will be different in each community and we need strong evaluations of the programs to continue to identify lessons learned.