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After parents’ protests, Netanyahu vows to move daycares to Education Ministry

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to an Education Ministry proposal for it to take full responsibility for all state-funded preschool daycare centers, a day after thousands of parents called for the move in nationwide protests.

The demonstrations came amid outrage after a manager at a private kindergarten was charged with harming kids under her care, with parents demanding changes to childcare oversight laws, including tougher sentences for abusive daycare workers and better supervision of daycare centers.

Netanyahu says in a statement that “beyond cameras, training of preschool [teachers] and basic supervision, I have now agreed with Education Minister Rafi Peretz that we will transfer the operation of the daycare centers to the Education Ministry.”

Just 23 percent of daycare centers in Israel are currently under the auspices of the Education Ministry and subject to its oversight. The remainder are overseen by agencies in the welfare or economy ministries, which parents say have lower standards.

Peretz, who was appointed to the position last month, thanks Netanyahu “for accepting our request,” saying that children’s protection was a key priority of his tenure. “The protection of children should be continuous, from the age of birth, through preschool, elementary and high schools. We have to make sure our children are protected in every sense. The Ministry of Education is the most professional and qualified agency to [carry out] this supervision, including from birth to 3 years.”

The decision refers only to state-run facilities from ages 3 and up. It will therefore not affect any private daycare centers, as protesters have demanded.

— Raoul Wootliff

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