An investigation of several WIZO, Emunah, and Na'amat childcare centers has revealed systematic abuse, with footage showing caregivers hitting, cursing, and neglecting their young charges, Yediot Ahronot reported on Monday.
The abuse and negligence was discovered after parents found footage and recordings from hidden cameras and voice recording devices.
Hadas' (name has been changed) mother said the story started when she collected her 2.5-year-old daughter from the Jerusalem-area daycare which she attended. When she asked her daughter how the day went, Hadas said, 'the preschool teacher hit me' and demonstrated a stinging slap on the face.
The next morning, Hadas' mother sent her daughter to daycare with a hidden voice recorder, and listened to the recording at the end of the day.
"It sounded like a horror movie," Hadas' mother said. "The caregivers screamed at, insulted, and hit the children."
Hadas' mother is not alone. Several parents have complained the "supervised" daycare centers are not actually supervised, and no inspectors come to check them. This allows daycare workers to do whatever they want, the parents claim.
In a daycare center run by Emunah in a central Israeli city, two daycare workers can be heard arguing about a 3-year-old they once forgot at a public park.
In one daycare center in Israel's north, daycare workers were videotaped repeatedly ignoring children's requests to eat or drink. And in another Jerusalem-area daycare, one of the daycare workers can be seen losing control, screaming at the children, and hitting them.
"Some of these workers would never be allowed to work in a grocery store," Chani (name has been changed), who is a daycare worker herself, told Yediot Ahronot. "They hit the babies, scream at them, then go out to have a smoke and leave the babies unattended."
One Yediot Ahronot reporter tried to get accepted as a daycare worker, and found the daycare manager did not ask about credentials or experience.
"I need someone now, can you be here in another hour?" the manager asked.
An Emunah spokesperson said, "This is a very general statement. If it is true - and I assume it's not imaginary - we have to understand that the exception does not reflect the rule."
"The rule is that every individual problem which has been exposed and proven true has been immediately and properly dealt with. We do not compromise on these things.
"This general accusation harms thousands of preschool teachers and daycare workers who give of themselves every day and work responsibly and lovingly. This accusation also does not make sense when we remember that waiting lists for Emunah daycare centers are hundreds of children long. [...]