When children are raised in dysfunctional homes and do not attend school on a regular basis, and experience physical, emotional and/or sexual trauma, they do not have the capabilities to bridge the educational and emotional gaps in their lives without professional intervention.
At Neve Michael, there is an ongoing effort to mend the shattered childhoods of the boys and girls who come from backgrounds rife with family dysfunction, drug and alcohol addiction, violence and other horrifying circumstances. The professional therapeutic individual treatment program meets the needs of each child and enhances their development and well-being.
The Professional Therapeutic Process
From the minute a child crosses our threshold, the professional staff at Neve Michael (social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, etc.) are on call. Initially, there is an internal psychological evaluation to determine what type of treatment would be best for the child. The staff also assesses each child’s cognitive and academic levels to determine their learning capabilities and needs. Whether the child is kept in the Crisis Center or in a family unit there is an ongoing internal evaluation made by the professional staff.
Each child has a file. At the end of every year a psycho-social evaluation is made and the report is forwarded to Family Services in the Social Welfare Department. This report includes the child’s personal details, the status of his parents, the reason the child was sent to Neve Michael, his/ her ongoing problems, treatment intervention, behavior description, social encounters, contact with adults, interaction with other children, academic achievements, relationship with therapists and counselors, etc.
Neve Michael is under the close supervision of the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Education who regularly inspect our Elementary School. We are in weekly contact with the welfare supervisors and the education inspector is in touch with the Principal of our Elementary School who is also on the local Board of Education, which is located on Neve Michael’s premises.
Our objective is to help our children break the vicious cycle of distress that plagued them before they were brought to our Home. Each child responds differently to the various treatments available. For this reason, we try to find the best way to reach into the souls of our children.
Children at risk who have been through traumas at a tender age are generally frightened, withdrawn, uncommunicative, distant, uncooperative, and suffer from behavioral disorders. In some cases, they do not respond to conventional psychological treatment.
Therapy Programs at Neve Michael
Types of therapy:
- Music therapy
- “Sulamot” – Israeli Philharmonic Music Program at Neve Michael Children’s Village
- Art therapy
- Drama therapy
- Pet therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Carpentry Therapy
- Psychotherapy with psychologists
- Psychotherapy with social workers
- Psychiatric treatment
Over 70 children receive individual or group pet therapy, every week in Neve Michael. The children, ages 6-16 years old, come from the Children’s Emergency Crisis Center and from the Children’s Homes. The Petting Zoo is open six days a week. There are rats, rabbits, gerbils, turtles, chickens, ducks, pigeons, parrots and cats.
The children relate to the animals through their own personal stories.
For example, an 8 year old girl told one of our Pet Therapists, about an abandoned dog who was left to fend for itself in the street and how hard it was for the dog to survive. Her own story was that her biological mother was a drug addict and the girl had to survive on her own.
One little boy of 6 who is in the Children’s Emergency Crisis Center, told about a pigeon that was enclosed in a cage that suffered from horrible violence and couldn’t escape. His personal story included being locked up in a cupboard and beaten every night by his alcoholic father.
How does it work? The pet therapist sees how the child relates to an animal and encourages the child to tell a story. Research shows that it is easier for children at risk to get closer and to trust a pet therapist in comparison to a conventional therapist because of a child’s affinity to animals.
One of the children found an injured cat in the street and brought it to the Petting Zoo. The children nurtured and cared for the cat during which time the pet therapist heard about the children’s own stories of abuse and injuries. Sometimes a child will project his/her own story on an animal and show anger towards an animal. One boy took a pigeon and punished it by placing it a cage far away from the other animals.
There is a boy who arrived at Neve Michael at the age of 8 years old due to severe violence in his home. He connected with the turtles and spoke about how a turtle must carry around such a heavy load on his back. After 10 years of pet therapy, he progressed and enlisted into the army.
The maltreatment at the hands of their biological families has engendered huge academic gaps and low self-esteem in our children at risk.
- Elementary school level children receive weekly tutorial enrichment lessons. Typically, about half of the children cannot read and write when they first arrive and the remaining 50% suffer from learning disabilities associated with a poor attention span and the inability to concentrate.
- High school level children require assistance in preparing for tests and matriculation exams and in understanding the study material.
- There are groups only for 11th and 12th grade students who are doing their matriculation exams (2-3 in a group). The rest of the children have individual and group lessons in math, English, reading/writing and general subjects.
Since English is an international language and used in every field of life, we established The English Learning Center that provides individual and group lessons to strengthen the children’s English capabilities, especially when many children do not even speak or write Hebrew properly.
Our children require the best professional care available to overcome the effects of their past traumas. At the Neve Michael Children’s Village, our individual treatment program meets the needs of each child and enhances their development and well-being.
Another vital program we have is the dental/orthodontic treatment. Neve Michael does not receive any assistance for orthodontic treatment for our children.
Needless to say it is important for one’s self’s image to have nice teeth. Being raised in dysfunctional families, dental hygiene is not a priority and takes its toll on these children-at-risk.
Dental/Orthodontic Treatment: $1,000 – $2,500 range per child