Regulating Welfare Services in Legislation
Currently, the State of Israel has no obligation to provide welfare services, aside from isolated cases provided for in legislation (such as a day care center for at-risk toddlers). Welfare services are provided on the basis of regulations and procedures, the budgeting for which is dependent on the local authority’s financial capacity, desire, and ability to provide them. In practice, this means that people in need of welfare services often do not receive them.
Recently, the state began to formulate the articulation of the Welfare Services Law. In a document we sent to the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services, Attorney Maskit Bendel presented a series of principles that must be followed to ensure the provision of welfare services in an appropriate and equitable manner, relating to two routes:
1. Regulating the obligation to provide welfare services through primary legislation, within the framework of which a binding basket of welfare services is updated, necessitating their provision on the basis of transparent and uniform criteria, as was conducted under the National Health Insurance Law. The basket will be independent of the local authority’s economic situation. It must be determined that the basket of services, or at least essential services, will be provided on the basis of each resident of Israel’s degree of need.
2. Regulating the procedure for the provision of welfare services, with an emphasis on ensuring a fair administrative procedure that complies with the restrictions, limitations, and needs of the population that requires these services. Among other things, the law must enshrine mechanisms that will guarantee a bill of rights to those who need welfare services, including: the right to receive social information; the right to be legally represented before the system; the right to appeal welfare services' decisions; the right to plea bargain prior to making a decision denying a right or entitlement; the right to choose the service-providing authority and replace a social worker; the right to privacy and autonomy; the right to receive service in the client’s language; the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination in the provision of welfare services; and the prohibition of conditioning welfare services on willingness to undergo therapeutic procedures. To ensure the exercise of the rights, there must be increased supervision over privatized services, along with a determination of which core services must not be privatized.