A recent exposé by Israel Hayom questioning the procedures by which case workers appointed by social services remover allegedly at-risk children from their homes has promoted members of the Knesset's Committee on Rights of the Child to call for an emergency committee meeting on the matter.
Committee members MKs Yoni Chetboun (Habayit Hayehudi) and Pnina Tamano-Shata (Yesh Atid) noted in their request that last weekend's feature in Israel Hayom "presented a disconcerting situation regarding the way in which the fateful, and at times tragic, decision to remove children from their homes is made. As the legislative body in Israel it is the Knesset's duty to review this critical issue.
"The feature outlined how the family courts' overwhelming caseload has created a situation in which case workers wield considerable power," Chetboun and Tamano-Shata's motion said.
"It appears that the decision to declare a child's life as being in immediate danger is made with almost unbearable ease, and that instead of helping parents create and sustain a healthy home environment for their child, case workers opt to remove children from their home and separate them from their parents."
While investigating the issue, Israel Hayom found that over 10,000 children are removed from their homes every year according to the sole discretion of social services' case workers.
The exposé further found that in many cases, relevant documents are kept from family court judges presiding over child placement hearings; that experts' reports are revised and redacted if they contradict the case workers' opinions; and that in many cases, no evidentiary hearings are held, thus preventing the parents from exercising their rights to refute the accusations made against them by social services.
The feature quoted several experts as saying that in many cases, children are removed from their home for no substantial reason and that such action causes them irrevocable harm.
"The Social Affairs Ministry is guided, first and foremost, by the best interest of the child. The [family] court is a full partner in this process, and any decision to remove a child from his or hers home is ultimately the court's decision."
Over the weekend, Israel Hayom received dozens of calls from parents, attorneys and people within the social welfare establishment, reinforcing the exposé's claims and offering further testimonies as to the helplessness of the families vis-à-vis the case workers assigned to them, and the deep mistrust they feel toward social services' officials in Israel.