Ministry, Local Authorities Push for Israeli Summer Camp Subsidies

Aid slated for periphery, poor urban communities.

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Children enjoying summer camp in Israel.
Children enjoying summer camp in Israel. Credit: ecamp

The Union of Local Authorities together with the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry are reducing the costs of summer camps run by local governments.

The union calls on local governments to join the initiative, in which a summer camp will not cost more than 852 shekels ($218). The Negev and Galilee Ministry promises to subsidize children from poorer municipalities that join the initiative.

It was launched after complaints by parents, following the Education Ministryj’s reneging on an initiative called “summertime schools.” In contrast to initial plans, the ministry announced three months ago that the project, launched by former Education Minister Shai Piron, would not be expanded beyond the two first grades.

The new program was presented Monday. It will cover children ages 3 to 6 in Negev and Galilee communities in which summer camp costs are capped at 850 shekels a month. In these cases the Negev and Galilee ministry will subsidize parents at 300 shekels for the first child and 50 shekels for each additional child. No means test will be applied.

When one parent is under the care of welfare agencies or if the family has a 50 percent rebate on property taxes, the subsidy for summer camp will total 680 shekels ($174). Such subsidies will be granted to 164 local governments in the periphery and to low-income communities, as well as to 135 poor neighborhoods in larger cities.

The union has not yet released a complete list of communities that have joined the initiative. The subsidies are contingent on a commitment by local governments to charge lower fees for the summer camps, and it’s unclear what incentive they have to join the initiative.

Haim Bibas, the union’s head as well as the mayor of Modi’in, demanded that the Education Ministry “fulfill its promise to subsidize summer camps for all ages, from kindergarten up to the 5th grade, and at least join the present initiative this summer.” If the initiative takes off and many municipalities join, the cost of summer camps will drop significantly. They presently run between 1,200 and 1,800 shekels per child. The union says parents who’ve already signed up for more expensive camps will be reimbursed if their local government drops the costs of its camps.

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