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The Youth Village: A Multicultural Approach to Residential Education and Care for Immigrant Youth in Israel



Migration, whuch has increased in the age of Globalization, elicits a range of responses from the host countries, ranging from passive tolerance to active support of the newcomers. These responses affect many aspects of public life most notably education, and the way immigrant youth are being either included or excluded. Residential care, which is known to be a powerful social instrument, is often used by societies for solving complex problems of children and young people. In Israel, these structural features of residential care institutions have been used for supporting young immigrants experiencing difficulties during the most crucial stage of the cross-cultural transition process. This paper presents the youth village, a unique Israeli residential educational model, highlighting the great potential of residential education and care programs for coping with the challenge of successfully integrating migrating youth.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
Emmanuel Grupper
Abstract: Migration, which has increased in the age of globalization, elicits a
range of responses from the host countries, ranging from passive tolerance to
active support of the newcomers. These responses affect many aspects of public
life, most notably education, and the way immigrant youth are being either
included or excluded. Residential care, which is known to be a powerful social
instrument, is often used by societies for solving complex problems of children
and young people. While many countries consider residential care an alternative
of last resort, in Israel, these structural features of residential care institutions have
been used for supporting young immigrants experiencing difficulties during the
most crucial stage of the cross-cultural transition process. This paper presents the
youth village, a unique Israeli residential educational model, highlighting the
great potential of residential education and care programs for coping with the
challenge of successfully integrating migrating youth. However, residential care
methods and concepts are changing a lot and this influences how residential care
programs are working with immigrant youth today.
Keywords: immigrant youth, multicultural, youth society, youth village,
residential education, residential care, youth at risk, integration, inclusion
Emmanuel Grupper, Ph.D. is Dean, School of Education & Society, Jerusalem
Academic Center-Lander Institute, and senior lecturer, Department of Child and Youth
Care, Beit Berl Academic College, P.O. Box 34353, Jerusalem 91343, Israel.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
Migrating populations
Migration has increased worldwide since the late 1980s. The reasons people leave
their country of birth are varied, as are the reasons they choose their host country, and
these strongly affect cross-cultural transition (Gibson, 2001; Suarez-Orozco, 2007).
Broadly speaking, migrants can be divided into displaced populations, labor migrants,
and immigrants.
Displaced populations are, for the most part, refugees, people who decided to
leave or were forced to do so because of war or political changes. Among recent
examples are people who left the former Yugoslavia during the war of the 1990s, or those
who escaped ongoing civil war in Sudan, the Republic of Congo, and the civil war that
led to the genocide in Rwanda.
Labor migrants, who comprise the most frequent category, are people seeking
better job opportunities with the hope of improving their quality of life and that of their
families, and usually view the time spent out of their country as a temporary phase.
Among contemporary examples are Turkish “guest workers” in Germany (Jockenhovel-
Schiecke, 1994), and Moroccans and other Maghreb citizens to Western Europe (Fargues,
2011). When such migration is illegal, the problems are compounded, as they are when
children are sent by their families to these host countries on their own as unaccompanied
minors who later apply for refugee status. Labor migrants are not always willing to
integrate culturally. They expect to gain concrete benefits from the host country, with the
idea of returning to their native country after earning and saving enough money (de
Vroome, Coenders, van Tubergen, & Verkuyten, 2011).
Immigrants are individuals who plan their transition from one country to another,
following a deliberate decision. Very often, they have a real desire to integrate in the new
culture and make it their new homeland, as do immigrants to Canada, the United States,
Australia, and Israel. Despite this desire, the adaptation process is accompanied by a great
deal of ambivalence on the part of both the immigrants and the receiving society, as the
immigrants are emotionally connected to their native culture and to their native language.
At times, as in the case of French-speaking communities in Canada, the immigrants try to
change the host culture to approximate their culture of origin (di Tomasso, 2012).
The Israeli situation of Jewish immigration to the country is unique because of the
traditional, age-old concept of the “ingathering of exiles in Zion” (Peres & Lizika, 2008).
Jews, who were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Romans in AD 70, always
cultivated the desire to come back to their land, and in the beginning of the 20th century,
the Zionist movement acted to build a new independent Jewish state. A linguistic
manifestation of this ideal and ideology is the Hebrew term for immigration to Israel
Aliyah (ascension), and an immigrant is an oleh (or olah in the case of a woman)
ascender. However, the terminology is only one part of a complex reality. Thus, during
the massive immigration of a million people from the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS) to Israel in the 1990s, the immigrants chose to settle in segregated enclaves
is some cities, as they had done in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York in the 1980s
(Al-Haj & Leshem, 2000; Schmitter-Heisler, 2000).
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
Host societies' attitudes toward migrant populations
The adaptation process of migrant people is strongly influenced by the attitude of
the host culture and the message it conveys to newcomers (Bhatnagar, 1981). Bhatnagar
defines three main categories describing interaction modalities between host societies and
immigrant groups, on a continuum from Assimilation to Integration (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Bhatnagar’s Continuum
Assimilation Adjustment Integration
Assimilation refers to the host society’s expectation that newcomers completely
adopt the norms, language, traditions, and values of the host society, eventually becoming
indistinguishable within the host society, forgoing their native language and culture
(Greenman, 2011). Assimilation assigns the newcomers with complete responsibility for
their adaptation. The host society adopts a passive role while the newcomers are expected
to assimilate and “disappear in the crowd” of the host culture as rapidly as possible.
Adjustment refers to the process through which newcomers learn to live in a
modicum of harmony with the new environment and their old culture, a co-existence of
the old values and traditions with the new ones. The host society does not expect a
complete disappearance of the culture of origin, but, like assimilation, adjustment is
entirely assigned to the newcomers, provided it does not interfere with the prevailing
culture. While this orientation allows individuals to achieve adjustment at a personal
pace, it could bring about self-imposed segregation. Thus, migrant populations continue
to live their traditional lives in their own areas, without making any effort to learn the
language of the new society and to integrate in the new culture. Such immigrant enclaves
can be found in the Netherlands where large populations of people from Suriname reside
next to the big cities, in France where some suburbs are mainly populated by migrants
from North African countries, and in the Turkish suburbs of Berlin. The adjustment
model carries many problems and tensions between newcomers and veteran citizens
living close to them, especially in poor neighborhoods.
Integration implies adjustment of both newcomers and natives. Although
newcomers will have to do most of the adjusting, some changes on the part of the host
culture will be required. Integration implies a multicultural society that considers the
contribution of minority groups to be no less valuable than that of the majority members
(Eisikovits, 1995a). Therefore, the norms and habits of a host society with an integration
orientation cannot remain unchanged after the many new members it absorbed have
added their imported cultural input.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
Since the 1990s, Israeli immigration policies could serve as a good example for an
integrative, culturally pluralistic model (Bardach, 2005; Eisikovits & Beck, 1990;
Yakhnich, 2008). The policy has been based on three principles: cultural pluralism in
integration, utilizing the socializing force of informal settings, and social transaction. The
first principle is the application of a culturally pluralistic model in integrating immigrant
youth. An example, being first applied in residential care youth villages, is the celebration
of Segd, a holiday celebrated by Ethiopian Jews only. This holiday, which was virtually
unknown in Israel prior to the immigration from Ethiopia, had been first incorporated into
the official school year (Shitrit, 2006) in residential programs where these young people
were integrated. Later on it was adopted in all Israeli schools and finally, in 2008, a law
was adopted by the Israeli Knesset (Israeli parliament) declaring the Segd an official
holiday recognized by the state.
During the same period many cultural adaptations were made to incorporate the
culture of immigrants from Russia: a Russian theatre was established and 13 new
symphonic orchestras were created. Russian parents were not always satisfied with the
level of science studies in Israeli schools and opened afternoon schools with pedagogical
methods used in the CIS. Last but not least, in order to have more influence on decision-
making processes they set up a political party which is represented in the Knesset by 12
representatives – 10% of all MPs (Feldman, 2007). All these changes could not have
happened in Israel in the 1950s, when a strong assimilative orientation prevailed. The
genuine will to integrate Jewish immigrants in an open and globalized world could be
done successfully only within a pluralistic attitude that implies a readiness of the host
culture to change during that process.
Residential education and care as a preferred
social instrument for absorbing migrant youth
Residential education and care for educating children and youth at risk has been
on the decline in many industrialized countries over recent years (Trede, 2008), one
reason being the stigma attached to any kind of institutionalized setting. Today’s
orientation shows a preference for community-based programs, with residential care
considered a last resort used only when all other interventions have failed (Frensch &
Cameron, 2002). In addition, the ever-increasing cost of treating a child in a residential-
care therapeutic program is encouraging policy-makers to look for less expensive
solutions, even though their effectiveness has not always been proven (Eurochild, 2010;
Grupper, 2002; Knorth, Harder, Zandberg, & Kendrick, 2008).
Another principle applied in dealing with youthful immigrants’ integration in
Israel is using the high socializing potential of informal socialization agencies – youth
movements (which are prevalent and popular) and youth villages, special community-
oriented residential education and care programs. Empirical evidence has shown that
youth villages have a great potential for enhancing immigrant youth’s absorption and for
facilitating their integration in the host society (Benbenisty & Zeira, 2008; Davidson-
Arad, 2010; Kahane, 1986; Kahane & Rapoport, 1990; Kashti, Grupper, & Shlasky,
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
2008). The assumption is that “living in school” in group-care settings is profitable for all
adolescents who take part in these social interactions, including native Israeli adolescents
who join such programs because of family problems or a lack of resources in their local
communities. These young people, whose schooling competencies are at an average
level, or even less, could benefit from the interaction with new immigrants while
introducing them, through daily contact, to their native-born peers’ norms and behavior.
These social-transactions are the third principle for the model of multicultural and
heterogenic youth society in the youth villages.
Although Israel has also experienced some decrease in residential care (from 14%
in 1990 to 10% in 2008), it is still largely used for young people aged 12 to 18 from a
wide range of cultural and social backgrounds. The underlying rationale for youth
villages is based on Kahane and Rapoport’s (1990) analysis of informal socialization
agencies. Accordingly, opting for a structured organization of children’s lives in
residential education and care programs, allows these children to experience a kind of
“moratorium”. This is important for every adolescent (Erickson, 1955) but especially
crucial for immigrant youth during their initial period in the new country. In Israel, about
15% of students aged 4 to 18 are immigrants. Of these, over 14% aged 12 to 18 are
educated in a variety of residential schools of the youth village type (Ben Arie, Kosher, &
Cohen, 2009).
Residential education and care in Israel
The relative number of children and young people in residential education and
care institutions in Israel is higher than in any other country, as many immigrant
adolescents are placed in residential schools in order to complete their secondary
education. These educational settings are particularly sensitive to the needs of
multicultural youth populations. While numbers vary from one period to another, the
general features have not changed significantly since the creation of the State of Israel in
The 586 residential programs in Israel are home to 67,240 children and youth
aged 3 to 18, representing 4 % of the overall population of children. In the 12 to 18 age
group the rate was 14% in the 1990s and 10% in the first years of the 21st century
(National Council for Children’s Wellbeing, 2008). In a survey conducted in the last
decade of the 20th century among 22 member countries of the Federation International
de Communautes Educatives (FICE), Israel being one of them, no other country had such
a high proportion of children in residential care programs (Gottesmann, 1991). A recent
study encompassing children in alternative care in 32 European countries (Eurochild,
2010), reflects the same tendency. It can be roughly estimated that around 1% of children
are taken into extra-familial care across the European Union (EU). This proportion varies
between countries – in Latvia 2.2%, in Sweden 0.66%, and in Romania 1.6% which is far
less than the Israeli figures.
There are five categories of residential institutions in Israel educational,
rehabilitation, therapeutic, post-psychiatric, and crisis intervention shelters (Schmid,
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2006). Educational residential programs are supervised by the Ministry of Education, and
a state-recognized high school is usually an integral part of the facility. Rehabilitation,
therapeutic, post-psychiatric facilities, and crisis intervention shelters are supervised by
the Ministry of Social Welfare. For the most part, these institutions do not include a
school on the premises, and the residents are placed in local schools in the nearby
The vast majority (85%) of children and young people are placed in educational
residential schools. This is a unique type of educational youth village, a care model that is
neither a rehabilitation center nor a boarding school, but a place where young people are
“living at school” (Arieli, Kashti, & Shlasky, 1983). The youth village attempts to serve
both educational needs and provide rehabilitation for those requiring it by creating a
stimulating environment that can empower each young person (Grupper, 2008). In this
kind of residential school, there is a tendency to bridge the gap and find appropriate
educational and rehabilitative solutions for a large range of young people.
Among the young people who are being educated in youth villages are new
immigrants who are in the midst of their cross-cultural transition process, children and
youth who are in need because of family and social problems, young people seeking a
second chance after having failed in local school, and young persons who have gone
through an emotional crisis.
The most popular settings for immigrant youth are educational residential schools,
which have a school on the premises. Most of the residents are adolescents in the 12- to
18-year-old age group, of whom two-thirds are immigrants. These immigrant adolescents
include over 2,000 students who came to Israel on their own to study with the intention of
remaining in the country, and for this population, the residential school must serve as a
“first home” in Israel. These young people add to the diversity of the overall youth
society in the residential schools, and contribute to making the life of all young people in
such youth communities highly different from a classical treatment-oriented residential
care institution.
Among the students in youth villages, some 10% to 15% required professional
emotional guidance, care, or even therapy, which they received on an individual basis,
while all other aspects of their life are lived as part of a completely normative
environment. Table 1 presents the overall composition of the residential education and
care field in Israel, including those for overseas students.
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Table 1. Israeli children and adolescents in residential education and care programs
(excluding disabled children placed in other types of residential care programs)
Type of residential program
Number of
Number of children
in care
Non-religious residential education and care
Youth villages
Youth groups in kibbutz
Children's homes
Maritime schools
Residential schools focused on sports
Residential schools focused on arts or other
specific educational tracks
Religious residential education and care
Religious youth villages
Youth groups in religious kibbutz
Religious children's homes
High school (yeshiva) for boys
High school (ulpana) for girls
Religious residential schools with specific
educational tracks
Other kinds of residential program
Youth protection residential programs
Residential programs with special education
Family home units
(Source: National Council for Children’s Wellbeing, 2008)
The reasons for high demand for residential education and care in Israel
In 1953, the Knesset passed the Law for Public Education. In recognition of the
various ethnic and religious groups, the law enables individuals to choose their preferred
form of schooling for their children. The Jewish population has the choice of co-ed state
schools, state-religious schools (some of which are co-ed, others separate for boys and
girls, which add religious studies to the state-school curriculum), and ultra-orthodox
(Haredi) schools, all of which are separate for boys and girls. In these schools, financed
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
and supervised by the Ministry of Education, the language of instruction is Hebrew. The
Arab population has its own schools, also financed and supervised by the Ministry of
Education, where the official language of instruction is Arabic. The focus of this paper is
on immigrant youth. Therefore, the Arab population in Israel is beyond the scope of the
present discussion.
In both the Jewish and Arab sectors there are a small number of private schools,
but the majority of children attend state-funded public schools. Among religious schools,
and particularly among the ultra-orthodox, schools are divided by sex. Girls who attend
religious schools learn general studies and religious studies, while those for boys are
mainly focused on religious studies. Many of the religious schools are residential schools,
a fact which bears on the discussion of residential care in Israel.
In Israel, residential education and care is less stigmatized than elsewhere, and
residential schools are perceived as normative and educative alternatives. All partners
involved – practitioners, policy-makers, administrators, children, and parents view the
range of residential alternatives as a continuum, with the elite boarding schools on one
end and the residential crisis intervention centers on the other. This means that there are
multiple possibilities for children and young people to “move” along the continuum and
choose, from among the different types of residential models, the one that best suits their
needs at every particular stage of their education.
Figure 2. The Continuum of Residential Education and Care Models
Religious youth villages Youth villages focused on sports
Agricultural youth villages
Residential Treatment centers
Boarding schools For Elite populations
Residential Schools focused on Arts Group homes Crisis intervention centers
The Israeli youth village: An educational residential model
The prototype of the leading Israeli educational residential institution is the youth
village. Like many other revolutionary movements (Bronfenbrenner, 1970), the Zionist
movement, in its initial phase, largely used group-care methods in order to educate youth
Maritime residential schools
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toward its new social challenges (Figure 3). This education began in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries with Zionist youth movements in Europe, and these later formed the
community model of the kibbutz (Kashti, 2000). The kibbutz movement, which
represented a new way of voluntarily chosen community life, provided the model for the
creation of youth villages, based on shared living of youth and adults in a small and
integrated educative community (Grupper, 2008; Arieli & Kashti, 1976).
Figure 3. Israeli Youth Village Model
Boarding schools for elite children and youth
Residential treatment centers for populations of
children and youth in high risk situations and in need of rehabilitation
populations creating the youth
village’s society
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Most countries have two distinct models of residential education and care settings
for children and young people, rehabilitation schools and schools for the elite. The first
focused on the rehabilitation needs of populations of children and young people who are
at high risk, such as school dropouts, those excluded from mainstream schools,
delinquent youth, and children and young people with problematic family backgrounds
and severe emotional problems. The second are specialized educational residential
schools that cater to elite groups of children and young people, for example, the public
schools in the United Kingdom (Kahan, 1994). These are prestigious educational
institutions with well-defined programs, aiming at maintaining the predominance of elite
groups in society (Lambert, 1975). Such specialized boarding schools exist in many
countries: maritime schools, military schools, preparatory programs for prestigious higher
education establishments, religious boarding schools, etc. These two different types of
residential education and care programs make use of the common structural features of
residential programs that can offer a well-structured and relatively closed environment,
which create the potential to rehabilitate and empower children and young people (Arieli
& Kashti, 1976; Eisikovits, 1995b, 2008; Grupper, 2008).
At the core of this residential model is a heterogeneous and multicultural
composition of the youth community. The youth village maintains a balance between
normative students who need residential care because they are immigrants in the midst of
cultural transition, and Israeli-born students who need residential education and care
because of family problems, and provides both groups with a real chance to enter the
social mainstream. In residential schools where there is enough heterogeneity of the
youth society, the ellipse is located in the middle of the diagram (Figure 3). In those
youth villages where there is a preponderance of youth at high risk, the heterogeneity
diminishes and the ellipse is directed toward the treatment-oriented residential care
models. In these cases, the educative and open model has difficulties in producing social
integration results. It is claimed (Kashti et al., 2008) that the current situation in Israel,
when fewer immigrants are arriving in the country and the youth society of part of this
network is losing its heterogeneity, might in the long run be harmful to the functioning of
the youth villages.
The youth village model is based on the socializing power of a cohesive
community, with kibbutz community life as its ideal. Bronferbrenner’s (1979) ecological
theory, according to which children’s development is not influenced only by the micro-
system, could serve to analyse and explain the elements of the youth village model. In
addition to the micro-system, Bronferbrenner lists other influences, as a result of people
acting in broader circles which he calls the meso-system and exo-system. Even more
important are influences by persons acting on the macro-system level, and the
development of a child is the end product of all these different activities. Indeed, in the
youth village the entire environment participates in the educational process, including
those who interact face-to-face with the child on the micro level and also those acting on
the other ecological levels.
This ecological concept can be applied at different levels, in every youth village
as an autonomous entity, and also at the youth village as part of a larger national network.
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
The Israeli residential education and care settings are organized in a relatively large
network which allows each institution to act autonomously, while enabling the network
as a whole to set general educational orientations and apply across-the-board policy
changes. A current example of such policy change has been taking place since the early
2000s, with parental involvement increasing in residential schools or in more specialized
residential care programs (Grupper & Mero-Jaffe, 2008).
Historically, residential staff tried to minimize children’s contact with their
families (Gottesmann, 1988). It is now universally accepted that this approach is wrong
and harmful for all children, most particularly for immigrant youth (Klap, 2008).
Therefore, decision-makers, researchers, scholars, and people in the media, all acting at
the macro-system level, have shaped public opinion and workers’ attitudes toward
accepting school-parent interaction. Program planners and policy-makers, staff training
programs, supervisors, and program directors, all acting on the meso-systems and exo-
systems, are developing concrete programs that can be applied by direct-care staff in their
daily work at the micro-system level. Consequently, parents are now invited to share
activities with their children. Among these activities are dynamic joint child-parent
weekly workshops, inviting parents to prepare a meal their child and his/her group,
participating in joint children-parents summer camps, having “family days” in the
residential school several times a year, inviting parents to celebrate festivities in the
residential school – from their child’s own birthday to celebration of national holidays.
These activities, some initiated by local staff or directors, others by supervising agencies
like the Ministry of Education, are successfully reshaping youth village norms and
procedures, and creating a completely different ecological environment for children in
residential education and care in Israel.
Creating a sense of belonging to a community
Young people and adults living together can create a united community. This, in a
way, puts into action Jones et al.’s (1986) concept of quality residential care being
defined as: Living together as a profession”. In residential communities where children
and adults live together, the prevailing atmosphere is of a group of people having
common goals in living together, which is instrumental in avoiding the negative effects of
a total institution” (Goffman, 1962).
The fact that young people live together and are supervised 24 hours a day in a
well-designed environment is a very powerful stimulation for them to achieve behavioral
changes. This is especially true for detached youth. However, these behavioral changes
are achieved through endless discussions and open negotiations between young people
and staff members and by modeling on the part of the staff, not by authoritative
discipline. This implies that the relationships between youth and adults are symmetric,
rather than the kind of relationship developed in programs operating under the “medical
model” (Anglin, 2002). This kind of environment is particularly important for migrant
young people who are looking for clues to overcome their marginal status which is the
starting point in their cross-cultural transitional process.
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In order to enable every member of the community to feel at ease, the community
is based on pluralistic and multicultural values. The youth population is composed of new
immigrants from varied cultural backgrounds: Ethiopia, the CIS, Europe, North America,
and Latin America. Other members of the community are Israeli-born adolescents who
come from the geographical and socio-cultural periphery. Creating a sense of belonging
(Brendtro, Brokenleg, & Van Bockern, 1990) in such a community is possible only if
staff members apply a true and genuine culturally pluralistic attitude, which can happen
only if the prevailing atmosphere emphasizes the importance of every individual finding
their place in such a community.
As an example, we can present the integration of Ethiopian youth in such youth
communities. Many of these young people came to Israel in the 1980s without their
parents, and the youth villages were, in many respects, their first home in Israel. In order
to give them the feeling that they are fully accepted by the community, and enable them
to feel the sense of belonging, some of their cultural traditions were incorporated by the
community as a whole. In keeping with the idea that although youth villages are part of a
network, each has the autonomy to seek ways to meet the needs of its residents, it is
important to add that these changes were the initiative of creative youth villages’
directors. These directors – who are educators and not solely administrators – felt that the
young immigrants from Ethiopia did not feel themselves at home among their peers in the
youth village. Therefore they looked for a substantive cultural element of the newcomers’
culture such as celebrating holidays like the Segd, unknown to Jewish society until the
arrival of Ethiopians to Israel (Shitrit, 2006) and make it a big event for the entire village
population, youth and adults alike.
Primacy of education over treatment
The Israeli residential model is based on the principle of normalization, and the
aim is to give the young person in the residential school the feeling of being in a
“normal” educational setting. Thus, a normative school is a central part of the residential
program and the educational success of every child is a primary target of the whole staff.
This is not easily achieved. Diverse support systems, both during and after school hours,
are used to help children succeed in their studies. Although the school is part of the
mainstream secondary school system (and not part of the special education school
system), it has to develop special tracks and methods. The residential school must also
train its teaching and educational staff through in-service-training programs to deal with a
wide variety of students, and enable every child to experience success. This objective, to
help all youth villages’ children to be successful in their studies, is supported by a
systematic study about graduates of youth villages (Benbenisty & Zeira, 2008; Zeira,
The kind of orientation that gives priority to the success of children in their
schooling requires that in the everyday decision-making process, educational
considerations be given priority over therapeutic considerations. Although the children
often have special emotional needs and the interventions of social workers, psychologists,
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
or even psychiatrists are focused on these individual needs, they should not interfere with
the overall atmosphere that deliberately emphasizes education over therapy.
Empowerment of children and staff as a major challenge
In order to realize the ambitious educational challenges presented here, every
activity has to convey a message of empowerment. The staff must make every effort
possible to ensure that children should experience success in whichever activity they are
engaged, be it scholastic, sports, artistic endeavors, working on the farm, or vocational
training. Special importance is attached to involving youth in self-governance activities in
the various aspects of the residential school’s daily life.
Empowerment of youth is also gained through their active enrolment in leadership
activities through which they experience responsibility taking, and also the rewards of
successfully accomplishing different kinds of social activities. These include volunteer
work in neighboring communities such as helping elderly people, coaching young
children, and performing in ceremonies and festivities of the larger community. These
diverse activities build the positive self-image of young people and can also have an
important impact on reducing the negative stigma, and even creating a positive public
opinion, toward members of the residential youth community. Involving difficult and
undisciplined young people in these kinds of activities is not an easy task. However, it
can be realized successfully if youth are given the opportunity to experience an
atmosphere which enables a genuine “moratorium” (Erickson, 1955). The unique setting
of the youth villages has a great potential of creating a fostering moratoriumfor young
people living in residential schools, and also for their care takers (Grupper & Eisikovits,
The residential care staff
The issue of residential direct-care workers and the training they require has been
the subject of debate among practitioners, decision-makers, and researchers alike (Jones
et al., 1986; Grupper, 2002; Romi & Grupper, 2011; Kobolt & Deklava, 2008). In many
European countries, full professionalization process has occurred, with France taking the
lead in the 1960s. A survey on this issue, undertaken by FICE in 1986, resulted in The
social pedagogue in Europe: Living with others as a profession (Jones et al., 1986). The
very title of this survey suggests the problems of this specific task and the particular way
that professionalization has taken shape and progressed. Living together with others as a
profession means that there is a way to look at everyday issues among them nutrition,
healthcare, emotional attention, educational support, sports, and storytellingin a skilled
way, not just by using intuition and common sense (Ligthart, 1993). The challenge is to
educate residential workers to be reflective practitioners” (Schon, 1983), while facing a
contrasting tendency of seeing such care activities as resembling parental care, which in
the eyes of the public does not require professional training.
The point that the neediest children receive services from the most poorly trained
workers, who live with them for long and intense hours in unstructured periods of time,
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
has been highlighted frequently (Shamai & Moyal-Butwin, 2012). Gottesmann (1987)
went so far as to state that a residential direct-care worker is: The tragic hero of
residential education and care” (p. 87). Currently, many countries have moved from the
para-professional model toward diverse patterns of professional training for direct-care
workers, either in pre-service training in universities or in specialized schools such as the
German Fachhochschoole (University for Applied Sciences), or by systematic on-the-job
training. In Canada, the University of Victoria opened a special School for Child and
Youth Care, and other universities are offering special undergraduate or post-graduate
programs in Child and Youth Care (Romi & Grupper, 2011). The main model locates
such workers as general practitioners who have a holistic responsibility toward children
in their care and for whom they serve as case managers.
In Israel, great efforts have been made to provide training programs for residential
workers, most of them involving on-the-job training. Several academic colleges such as
Beit Berl offer undergraduate programs toward a degree in Youth Work, and since 2012
also graduate programs. Some courses are geared specifically for practicing residential
care workers, and their work is credited as part of the practicum program. While to date
there is no legal requirement to employ only trained personnel, workforce statistics
concerning residential direct-care workers show that more than 50% of new workers
nowadays have a university diploma in social science. Policy-makers and directors of
schools are working together in order to find ways to empower residential staff and
supply them with professional development of competencies and skills that will help
them do the job with the students in a successful way.
While professionalization of residential care staff has brought about many positive
effects (Kobolt & Dekleva, 2008), it has also increased dramatically the cost of maintaining
a child in residential education or care institutions, resulting in a significant decrease in the
number of placements available in many Western countries (Everychild, 2011; Knorth &
Van der Ploeg, 1994; Trede, 2008). In Israel, a careful analysis of the situation has been
conducted in order to find the right balance between developing staff members’
professionalism while maintaining the cost of residential care at a reasonable level
(Grupper, 2003).
New trends in residential education and care
In Israel, as elsewhere, residential institutions are bound to modify themselves
according to broader social changes. The main changes in the Israeli residential network
are focused on three major areas:
1. Higher priority to school achievements. Major efforts have been made to
guarantee youth in care optimal opportunities to achieve educational
success in their schooling, as such success is conceived as a key element
in providing better opportunities for them as adults.
2. Involving parents in their children's education. It is now recognized that
parents, even the most vulnerable ones, should be treated as full partners
in their children’s education and care (Klap, 2008). This is not always easy
International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies (2013) 2: 224–244
to achieve in residential establishments that used to operate as closed
systems. Today, however, due to the importance attached to the family,
there is a major effort for residential staff to incorporate this policy change
into everyday life for children in their care.
3. Better collaboration with neighboring communities. Most residential
youth villages were established in rural and isolated areas, and the nearby
community did not play any role in their functioning. With the overall
growth in Israeli population, many of these once isolated villages are now
on the outskirts of urban or suburban communities, and interface with their
educational and social services. Instead of viewing community-based
programs and residential programs as contradictory, they are now thought
of as complementary services. New collaborations between residential
institutions and communities are gradually being developed, among them
new models such as half-way houses and extended day programs that care
for children without having to separate them completely from their family
and community.
The residential education and care network in Israel was, and still is, a very
important social instrument for coping successfully with complex educational and social
challenges. In an immigrant society that is constantly receiving migrant populations from
different cultural backgrounds, this is a major challenge. Residential programs have
proved to be highly instrumental in achieving successful social integration of immigrant
youth (Berry, 2006; Eisikovits, 2008). They have also proven to be an important asset in
reintegrating detached youth in high-risk situations. The ethos of community life,
practiced in Israeli youth villages, where young people and their educators live together,
creates optimal opportunities for developing young people’s sense of belonging, first to
the inner peer-group circle, later to the youth community, and, hopefully, leading them
toward adulthood as people who feel committed and emotionally belonging to their
family, community, and to society at large.
Such educational challenges cannot be achieved by educational establishments
which are “total institutions” (Goffman, 1962). Following Barnes (1991), we believe that
successful group-care programs should function as “greenhouses” rather than
warehouses” and, as such, the Israeli youth village model can be seen as such an
empowering vehicle. The “greenhouse” idea implies that in the future, the residential
education and care network in Israel and elsewhere, will gain enough public support and
sufficient resources in order to empower new generations of multicultural young people.
We believe that residential programs should not be seen as the last resort” but, on the
contrary, the preferred option for those who need it and can take best advantage of it.
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... In the early 1970s, youth villages were home to many Israeli adolescents who were second-generation to adversity, and over time many settings became homogeneous in terms of the composition of their disadvantaged population (Grupper, 2013;Shlasky, 2000). Later, and concurrently with changes in their populations, youth villages have replaced their agricultural ethos with an ethos of a 'comprehensive' education becoming institutions that promote secondary education combined with vocational training (Arieli, 2000). ...
... The youth village attempts to serve educational needs and it also provides rehabilitation for those requiring it by creating a stimulating environment that can empower each young person. The model attempts to bridge the gap and find appropriate balance between educational and rehabilitative solutions for a large range of young people (Grupper, 2013). ...
... Youth villages are intended for adolescents from families with difficulties or inability to raise them because of a family crisis, migrant situations and other family difficulties that may affect their normal development or because they choose to do so because of ideological reasons. They offer a promising educational model called 'living at school' (Grupper, 2013). ...
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Revitalizing Residential Care for Children and Youth: Cross-National Trends and Challenges addresses the question of how societies with developed welfare and social service systems assess current needs and future directions in their residential child and youth care sectors. This includes dealing with historical concerns raised about the placement of children and youth in residential care settings, as well as identifying innovative strategies that offer new pathways for the integration of this often-neglected sector of service within the broader area of child welfare. Each of the 16 countries selected for inclusion is examined through a common matrix that provides information about the current policy context, key trends and initiatives, characteristics of children and youth served, preparation of residential care personnel, promising programmatic innovations, and present strengths and challenges. Individual country analyses are supplemented by regional exemplars of innovative residential programs and practice in areas such as family engagement, helping youth with the transition from care to community, promising model programs, and reflections on recent policy reform initiatives. In addition to takeaways from each country, the book’s closing chapter identifies specific implications for policy reform, empirical research, and residential program innovation. What sets this book apart is its systematic cross-national appraisal of residential care for children and youth with an eye toward identifying innovative policies and practices undergirded by research. In so doing, it offers a unique contribution to the international child welfare literature.
... Studies on care leavers usually refer to young people who spent their childhood and adolescence in out-of-home care (i.e., foster family or residential setting) due to maltreatment. Israel has a number of different characteristics of out-of-home settings (Ainsworth & Thoburn, 2014) that contribute to a different pattern of placement and transition out of care: (1) Most of those in out-of-home care in Israel live in a residential setting, as opposed to staying in foster families; (2) The educational residential model is unique among institutional frameworks (Zeira & Grupper, 2023); (3) Israel is a multicultural society which impacts on the educational residential system (Grupper, 2013); and (4) At the age of 18, and upon aging-out of the care system, most young people enlist to the mandatory military service, which is a transitional period, moratorium and preparation for adulthood (Benbenishty, 2008). In this study we chose to follow care leavers of youth villages due to the unique nature of these educational-therapeutic institutions (Grupper, 2009) and as they are by far the largest out-of-home alternative in Israel (National Council for the Child, 2019). ...
... Before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 youth villages were an agency for social integration and a safe harbor to youth survivors of WWII (Kashti, 2000). Since the 1950s youth villages provided a home to children of immigrants, first from North Africa, and later in the 1990s for the large waves of immigration mostly from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and Ethiopia (Grupper, 2013). As such, they are mostly intended for Jewish population and the number of Arab residents is extremely small. ...
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Care leavers, one of the most vulnerable groups in society, are underrepresented in higher education (HE). This study follows 16 entire birth cohorts of alumni of youth villages in Israel (born 1982–1997, N = 44,164) and is based on national administrative data. Using Propensity Score Matching we created a double sized comparison group from the same birth cohorts in the general population (N = 88,328). We use three indicators of educational outcomes: high-school educational attainments, enrollment to HE and HE track. To assess whether attending a youth village is associated with improved outcomes we employ a longitudinal quasi-experimental design and compare the outcomes of care leavers to the matched comparison group. Compared to their matched peers, care leavers were more likely to take at least one matriculation exam and to attain a regular matriculation diploma, but were less likely to gain a diploma that meets the threshold requirement to enter university. Consequently, care leavers were less likely than their matched peers to enroll into HE. Significantly fewer care leavers entered universities, but their rates of entering teachers' colleges were higher. Our findings suggest that youth villages are relatively successful in terms of high-school achievements. Yet, these are insufficient for care leavers to enter HE and they need further support to bridge the gap with the general population.
... This residential system is separate from the welfare system, in which placement follows a decision process of removing a child at immediate risk due to maltreatment. In contrast, youth villages take in voluntary placements of adolescents from underprivileged families, mostly from the geographical or the social periphery of Israel, and many immigrants (Grupper, 2013). These families live in deep distress mostly because of poverty and have difficulties in providing for the educational needs of their children within their low-resource neighborhoods (Zeira & Benbenishty, 2011) or they may be struggling with major personal, familial, and economic challenges limiting the support and resources that they can provide for their children. ...
Empirical evidence on life satisfaction of care leavers is scant and often based on small and nonrepresentative samples. Based on the life course perspective, this study explored the role of objective and subjective factors in explaining life satisfaction among care leavers, both general and domain-specific (work-financial-housing, social relationships-emotional state). The sample was randomly drawn from the whole population of eight graduating birth cohorts of alumni of educational residential care in Israel and consists of 2, 295 alumni (24-31 years old). The study is based on an extensive set of longitudinal administrative records combined with structured phone interviews. Bivariate analysis and multiple regression models were used to assess associations between precare context, in-care and postcare experiences and achievements with general and domain-specific life satisfaction. Gender differences were found in both domain-specific life satisfactions with men having greater satisfaction. Family background indicators were generally more predictive of general and social relationships- emotional state satisfaction. In-care experiences of peer and staff support and postcare experience of material deprivation were strong predictors of general and domain-specific life satisfaction. Postcare contacts with care staff, surprisingly, were associated with lower general satisfaction and satisfaction with social relationships-emotional state. Higher educational attainment at the end of placement and integration into postsecondary education were associated with greater general and work-financial-housing satisfaction. The effects of in-care preparation for independent adult living, employment and parenthood are not consistent across different domains of life satisfaction. Implications for policy and practice during and after care are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... First, students in therapeutic professions believe religion and spirituality are important to their profession (Gilligan and Furness 2006). Since education is considered a therapeutic profession (Grupper 2012;Hillel Lavian 2009;Lahav 2007;Shehory-Rubin 2011;Yakov 2013), it can be predicted that students of education will have more positive attitudes towards religion and spirituality than students who chose to study scientific fields, which do not incorporate a therapeutic angle. Second, studies about the historical conflict between religion and science discuss the opposition of the religious establishment to new scientific ideas, which are seen as undermining the principals of faith (Berry 2000;Holtzman 2003;Kaplan 2001;Nelkin 2004). ...
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The current study examined trends regarding religion and spirituality among Jewish and Bedouin female students studying education and sciences at Achva Academic College, a rural secular college in southern Israel. The Bedouin women all originated from an isolationist traditional society, vigilantly maintained over many years. Contrastingly, the Jewish women come from a secular or traditional society, which is not isolationist. Science and education are two completely different worlds of content. Science studies include analytical research, with the students carrying out experiments in laboratories and within the community, whereas education studies focus on pedagogy and transfer of knowledge. The study employed a questionnaire with Likert items regarding religion and spirituality. We found the Bedouin students were more religious than the Jewish ones, but spirituality levels were similar. This finding indicated that the Bedouin students have indeed broken down the barriers to academic education, but still have retained their traditional community framework. Likewise, we found that the students of science were less observant of religious practices in comparison to those studying education, but they were similar regarding spirituality and the theoretical aspects of religion. This finding showed that practical aspects of religion can be a factor influencing the choice of field of study.
... Youth villages include youth from underprivileged backgrounds, such as migrant youth who are in the midst of their cross-cultural transition process; youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds and high-crime neighborhoods; youth who seek a second chance after having failed at or dropped out of school; and youth coping with emotional-behavioral difficulties (Pinchover & Attar-Schwartz, 2018). The youth village is designed to create a stimulating environment with a variety of informal after-school activities and programs, including elements of emotionalbehavioral treatment by social workers or psychologists (Grupper, 2013). ...
This study examined a unique police studies intervention program by comparing two groups of youth-at-risk in two types of residential youth schools. The experimental group included 129 youths who had attended a police studies program, while the control group included 167 youths who had attended a different intervention program, without police studies. We hypothesized that the experimental group would have more positive perceptions of police legitimacy and distributive justice and higher levels of personal morality than the control group would. Moreover, we hypothesized that the relationship between the type of the intervention program and perceptions of police legitimacy would be explained by youths’ personal morality and perceptions of police distributive justice. The study showed that the experimental group had more positive perceptions of police legitimacy and higher personal morality than did the control group, but there were no differences in perceived police distributive justice between the two groups. In addition, while personal morality partly mediated the link between the type of intervention program and perceptions of police legitimacy, perceived police distributive justice did not. Empirical and theoretical implications are discussed.
... Out-of-home care, especially treatment residential care programs are often described in the media, and even in some professional studies, as obsolete social structures (Consensus Statement, 2014). Residential care settings are out-of-home facilities such as educational youth villages and educational, therapeutic, or rehabilitation residential treatment centers (Grupper, 2013). Their aim is to provide education, treatment, rehabilitation or protection for children and youth, including those at risk and others, to protect these young people and work toward making a positive change, one that would allow them successfully reintegrate into the community (Aharoni, 2018). ...
... Educational youth villages have been receiving adolescent immigrants since the 1990s, mostly from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia (Zeira & Benbenishty, 2011). These facilities also host adolescents from underprivileged families, mostly from Israel's geographical or social periphery (Grupper, 2013). ...
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Most studies on young people aging-out of residential care (care leavers) have examined their situation in various post-care life domains (e.g. education, employment), but their subjective well-being, particularly life satisfaction, has been neglected. Here we focus on life satisfaction among care leavers four years after leaving care in Israel. Mixed-methods and longitudinal approaches were used to identify personal and social factors contributing to life satisfaction. The quantitative sample included 222 young people who were interviewed at three time points (T1-T3): on the verge of leaving care, one year later and four years after leaving care. Sixteen narrative interviews were conducted at T3. Both methods showed that personal resources, parental and peer support contributed to life satisfaction. The qualitative findings highlighted the complexity of care leavers' relationships with their birth parents. The interviews also demonstrated the potential contribution of other types of resources including siblings, romantic partners and stable formal support from practitioners in residential care and in the community. The findings suggest that to enhance care leavers’ life satisfaction, practitioners' interventions should focus on empowering them to enhance their personal resources. In addition, the birth parents of some of the care-leavers had harmful relationships with their children and need various types of intervention to help them become a source of support for their child.
Background Little is known about the long-term labor force attachment (LFA) of care leavers and how they compare with similar youth. Objectives This study aims to: (1) examine LFA from age 21 to 34 among care leavers and a comparison group; (2) explain variability in age-related LFA. Participants and setting Two groups were studied: all alumni of 14 consecutive birth cohorts (1982–1995) of care leavers of youth villages in Israel (22,670) and a double-sized matched comparison group drawn from the corresponding cohorts in the general population (45,340). Methods The study is based on a longitudinal cross-sequential between-groups design. The dataset integrates an extensive set of longitudinal administrative records. Descriptive statistic was used to describe and compare care leavers and their matched peers, in terms of background and achievements. Bivariate analyses examined differences in age-related LFA between care leavers and their matched peers. A multilevel multinomial model was employed to predict LFA levels throughout the age span. Results In terms of achievements, care leavers show poorer educational attainment, greater reliance on social welfare services and experienced more difficulties during the mandatory military service. The rate of care leavers strongly connected to the labor market gradually increased as they grew older, reaching to about 65 % by age 34, whereas the rate of those disconnected from the labor market decreased with age, standing on 19 % by age 34. Care leavers had stronger LFA than their matched peers during their entire 20's, and similar levels thereafter. Multiple factors (e.g., family background, educational attainments) were associated with different levels of LFA. Conclusions Differential policy measures, while in-care and afterward, are needed to address care leavers' variability in labor market experience.
The study examines a prevention program in a youth village boarding school as part of police studies with at-risk youth. The study used a cross-sectional design and a self-report survey to draw comparisons between two groups of at-risk youth, from two different types of youth villages. The first, experimental group was comprised of 129 youths who had attended a police studies program, while the second, control group was comprised of 167 youths who had attended a different intervention program without police studies. We hypothesized that the experimental group’s perceptions of police legitimacy would be more positive and that they would evaluate police effectiveness and procedural justice more positively than the control group. We also hypothesized that positive evaluations of police effectiveness and procedural justice among at-risk youth in the police studies program would mediate their perceptions of police legitimacy. The results of the study supported the two hypothesis
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Children and adolescents in residential-care facilities often have lower academic achievements that their counterparts who are raised at home. Traditionally, residential programs do not prioritize academic achievements, especially at the high-school level, a situation detrimental to their chances to enter institutes of higher education. The Israel Ministry of Education decided to implement a policy change to affect the overall ecology of youth villages (Israeli residential schools), aimed at emphasizing highschool academic achievements as a key to future success. This attitudinal change led to the development of after-school study centers or evening classes within the village, applying non-formal teaching and learning methods in a relaxed atmosphere. Additionally, various support systems were developed in youth villages, all geared toward helping adolescents excel in meeting the challenges of high school.
An international gathering of leading scholars, policymakers, and educators takes on some of the most difficult and controversial issues of our time in this groundbreaking exploration of how globalization is affecting education around the world. The contributors, drawing from innovative research in both the social sciences and the neurosciences, examine the challenges and opportunities now facing schools as a result of massive migration flows, new economic realities, new technologies, and the growing cultural diversity of the world's major cities. Writing for a wide audience, they address such questions as: How do we educate all youth to develop the skills and sensibilities necessary to thrive in globally linked, technologically interconnected economies? What can schools do to meet the urgent need to educate growing numbers of migrant youth at risk of failure in societies already divided by inequality? What are the limits of cultural tolerance as tensions over gender, religion, and race threaten social cohesion in schools and neighborhoods alike? Bringing together scholars with deep experience in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, this work, grounded in rich examples from everyday life, is highly relevant not only to scholars and policymakers but also to all stakeholders responsible for the day-to-day workings of schools in cities across the globe.
Explains why informal voluntaristic agencies of socialization are considered the most adequate for facilitating the absorption of immigrants into society. The major argument is that the structural characteristics of informal agencies, such as moratorium, symmetry, expressiveness, voluntarism and multiplexity, have made them a setting for reciprocal encounters between veterans and newcomers. Such encounters generate a sense of dignity among immigrants and increase their capacity to struggle for economic and political absorption on their own terms. -Author