About The Forum
The Forum of Social Services Directors in the Arab Community (FSSD), established in 2003, is a human and social rights organization promoting social and welfare services for the Arab community in Israel. We are a non-partisan group serving Muslims, Christians, and Druze. All 75 Directors of Social Services in the Arab Local Authorities are members and volunteer their time, bringing years of professional experience. Our activities include: Representing the Arab voice and conducting strategic planning with national and professional committees; developing culturally sensitive pilot projects as models for adoption by governmental agencies; Monitoring the allocation of national budgets; Conducting field surveys and academic research; Media outreach, workshops and seminars.
Recently we published the innovative Arabic Social Work Vocabulary Lexicon and Guidebook. Until now, all social work terminology, discourse, and reporting was conducted exclusively in Hebrew, thus excluding much of the Arab population. This sets a precedent for other public services, such as health services and the police, to become accessible in Arabic as well.
We opened the Violence against Women Intervention Center as a pilot project supporting 8 towns in the Western Galilee. The Center works to enhance the health and well-being of Arab women, reduce violence, and serve as a replicable model for future services. Arab women in small communities live in poverty, are frequently denied rights, and often face violence. Most existing social service programs do not address their unique cultural circumstances, and small towns cannot provide sufficient training or services. We provide training in child protection and domestic violence prevention, as well as workshops and coordination with other agencies. Involving Arab social workers cultivates cultural acceptance for these services. The Center is highly successful, and the Ministry of Welfare has endorsed our program and will adopt the Galilee pilot center. We are already expanding to the Jezreel Valley.
We conducted and published an in-depth national survey of the welfare situation in Arab communities and co-sponsored the international workshop on family violence with the Haifa University Center for Research of Society.
In 2006 in response to the Second Lebanon War we co-founded the Al-mubadara Center. This center provides social services for the Arab community in crisis situations.
We have submitted two appeals to the Supreme Court of Justice. One requests that government budgets set aside for boarding school to be used for intra-community education solutions. Following our appeal, the Ministry committed to represent minority needs within 3-5 years. We follow up to offer support, check the status, and hold them accountable. Our second case involves the “matching funds” regulation. Towns must collect 25% of their budgets in taxes to receive the remaining 75% from the government. Arab towns have difficulty raising funds, so the money earmarked for these authorities is typically withheld. By challenging this rule we demand reconsideration of this policy so that Arab communities will not be regularly denied funds. This case is currently under review, and the decision will impact how other ministries allocate budgets.
Our funders: The New Israel Fund (since inception), The Kathryn Ames Foundation, Friendship Foundation, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; partners: The Arab Mayors Committee, Shatil, Israel’s Religious Action Center (IRAC), The Israel Trauma Coalition, The Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, Social Workers’ Union, and others.