Nonprofit for special needs kids says gov’t budget cut forcing summer camp closure

Krembo Wings, which serves 9,000 children nationwide, says it lacks funding for this summer; Welfare Ministry blames last government for budget shortfall; MKs call for action

Krembo Wings provides weekly social activities for hundreds of young people with special needs. (Screenshot/ YouTube)
Krembo Wings provides weekly social activities for hundreds of young people with special needs. (Screenshot/ YouTube)

An organization that aids children with special needs announced Sunday that it was forced to shutter its planned summer camp due to a cut in government funding.

Krembo Wings, a nonprofit established in 2002 to provide a range of activities for children with physical, cognitive, and other disabilities, said that it must make “difficult decisions” due to an urgent cashflow problem. The organization says it serves around 9,000 members in 92 different branches around the country.

“To our sadness and great disappointment, the support from various government ministries has dropped significantly,” the organization wrote in a letter on Sunday to parents. “This has brought us to the brink of a budgetary and cashflow crisis, which has forced us to make difficult and complicated decisions in order to ensure the continuation of our activities.”

As a “first step,” the directors of Krembo Wings wrote, the organization will be canceling its upcoming summer camps nationwide.

They wrote that, while they understand the great importance of the camp, its flagship activity, the nonprofit is forced to act “until wide public backing can be arranged” to ensure its activities can move forward.

According to its 2020 financial report, the organization receives a significant chunk of its funding from the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, and a smaller portion from the Education Ministry. It also receives donations from a wide range of family foundations, nonprofits, and commercial companies.

In response, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry blamed the last government for the cut, saying that the former coalition had allowed a greater range of nonprofits to be recognized, leading to a smaller allotment to each eligible organization. The statement from the ministry added that it was working to increase the financial backing for the 2023-2024 budget.

The government has until May 29 to successfully pass the full budget on the Knesset floor or risk automatically triggering a new election.

A range of coalition and opposition MKs reacted to the news on Sunday, vowing to work to ensure the camps go ahead as planned.

Yesh Atid MK Karine Elharrar, who uses a wheelchair, said that Krembo Wings “must be above all political considerations. The entire government must act to acquire the missing budget.”

Labor MK Gilad Kariv said he intended to file an urgent query into the issue in the Knesset on Monday: “I am certain that many more members of Knesset will demand [attention to] the issue until it is successfully settled.”

Religious Zionism MK Michal Woldiger said she was “clarifying the issue.”

Yesh Atid MKs Yorai Lahav-Hertzano, Debbie Biton and Meir Cohen — a former welfare minister — and Labor MK Efrat Rayten and National Unity MK Chili Tropper signed on to a joint letter to the finance, education and welfare ministers on Sunday calling on them to find an “immediate solution” to the issue and to increase the organization’s budget.

The mayors of Ramat Gan and Ashdod said Sunday that they would ensure that municipal funds would be allotted to allow the camps to go forward in their cities.

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