The First 1,000 Days Project

The First 1,000 Days Project

The 250,000 Bedouin of the Negev—25% of the population in Israel’s south—is probably the country’s most underserviced, marginalized sector. Grassroots work by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Joint) has identified a great need among Bedouin families, especially the women, for emotional support during the early years of parenthood. These women live complex lives with a unique set of pressures and concerns, but their villages’ relative isolation limits their support options or excess to information.

This unmet need has given rise to an exciting strategic collaboration between the Joint, MTA’s SEED Center for the Study of Early Emotional Development and Haifa University: The First 1,000 Days Project, which is specially designed to assist Bedouin families living in Israel’s southern region cope with the challenges of parenthood and support their children’s early emotional development (ages 0-3). This period is critical for a child’s emotional development, with numerous scientific studies demonstrating that difficulties in parent-infant communications can, if untreated, lead to severe neurological, biological, cognitive or emotional challenges in childhood and later on in life.

The first tier of this three-tier guidance program involves MTA SEED Center staff training ~15 professionals working with the Bedouin community (e.g., doctors, social workers, nurses) on the most current early childhood parenting approaches and on how to effectively transmit this information further. These professionals will then train interested Bedouin women to be child-emotional-rearing guides. Each guide will accompany several Bedouin families, and will receive financial remuneration for her services. Guides will consult on child behavior and emotional difficulties, may assist in certain tasks and, perhaps most importantly, lend an ear to Bedouin mothers in times of need and crisis. In this manner, the program is able to produce a long-lasting effect on mothers, their children’s emotional well-being and the Bedouin community as a whole.

This program represents a collaboration between the Joint, MTA’s SEED Center for the Study of Early Emotional Development and Haifa University. The Joint is currently providing the funding for the project, and MTA provides, in collaboration with academic staff from Haifa University, the professional training for the professionals, and is subsequently involved in overseeing and assisting the child-emotional-rearing guides.

The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo
The Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo (MTA) is a public institution with a clear mission: to harness its academic assets to benefit society. The top priority of the college is to successfully integrate minority groups into Israeli society out of the desire to bring into fruition the forging of a cohesive society whose members strive together toward common goals. As part of this vision, MTA is committed to nurturing the human potential of Arab youth, who belong to Israel’s largest underser ...