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WOMEN'S SHELTERS

Women Shelter

There are 12 WIZO Shelters for battered women in Israel. Most shelters can house 12 women and 25 children during any one period. A referral to the Shelter is made through the Centers for the Prevention of Violence in the Family, Departments for Family Welfare, the police, hospitals or the emergency hotline which is operated by WIZO.

The women can remain in the Shelter for a period up to half a year (under directives of the Ministry of Social Welfare), but in special cases women also remain for periods up to one year. There are defined rules in the Shelters as set times for activities or keeping rules of hygiene. The rules are decided jointly with the women themselves as they actually run the house. There are shifts for cooking, cleaning, and maintenance of the outside areas and gardens. Menus are decided together with the women in such a way that they include all food groups which are essential for the correct development of the children, and are repeated once in two weeks. During the period of Jewish holidays the menu is more flexible, according to the wishes of the women and their cultures. Sometimes the women prepare special dishes.

Social workers meet with the women individually and as a group at least once a week, and in special cases even more. A children’s social worker evaluates each child separately in order to plan a learning program and any rehabilitation that they may need.

Other staff at the Center includes a "House Mother", a secretary and an afternoon counselor; who each day organizes activities for the mothers and children. In addition, there are many volunteers doing their National Service (instead of IDF service), and they help with all activities. There is a lawyer available who takes care of all legal needs of the Shelter and helps the women who need legal advice, such as to take out orders to prevent violent partners from leaving the country, separation orders, and more.

After arriving at the Shelter, the young children (3-months to 4-years) enter appropriate schooling within the Shelter’s complex, which has one teacher and one teacher’s aide. Children who are older, join the municipal kindergartens and schools in the neighborhood, which are very close to the Shelter.

During their stay in the Shelter, the women undergo an empowerment process and are prepared for independent lives as single parents. The process includes meetings, personal interviews and advice, group meetings, and workshops on various subjects, which are all part of the agenda in the Shelter. The aim is to empower and give self confidence to the women as well as the necessary tools to cope in a working atmosphere (suited to each woman according to her capabilities). The women carry out a normative way of life which include social and study times, working on shifts, and rest periods.

A committee assesses the situation of each woman before she leaves the Shelter, and may suggest that they stay for a longer period in order to complete the empowerment process and prepare for independent life outside the Shelter.

After leaving the Shelter the woman is encouraged to rent an apartment in the locality of the Shelter so that the children can continue with their routine in pre-school or school. WIZO provides a substantial support network in which women are referred to the WIZO Center for the Prevention of Violence in the Family for individual and group therapy, and they can call the Hotline for Women in Distress, which WIZO operates, any time, night or day. Their young children are referred to WIZO Day Care Centers in the area of their apartments so that they can continue to be in the supportive, educational atmosphere, which is loving and warm, and gives the mother the chance to work outside the home.

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