Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Ph.D., the associate director of the Center for Social Development and associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University, presented to a visiting delegation of Israeli government officials in New York City. Building on a longstanding working relationship with Israel’s Ministry of Welfare & Social Services (Welfare Ministry), Grinstein-Weiss focused her September 2014 presentation, “Addressing Poverty and Financial Inclusion through Asset Building,” on the history and importance of asset building as a strategy to address rising levels of income inequality and poverty in both Israel and the United States.
Grinstein-Weiss emphasized a policy proposal she authored to implement a national Child Development Account (CDA) program. The initiative would provide Israeli children with a savings account with initial deposits at birth, with funds reserved for education, vocational training, business development or purchase of a home accessible on the child’s 21st birthday.
Attendees at the meeting included: Director General Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, of the National Insurance Institute (Social Security) of Israel; Director General Yossi Silman, of the Welfare Ministry; Director General Michal Cohen of the Ministry of Education; Director General Arnon Afek of the Ministry of Health; Deputy Director General Yair Pines of the Ministry of Finance; and Deputy Director Couty Sabah of the Welfare Ministry; Director Jack Habib of the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute; and Dean John Gal of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Grinstein-Weiss has served as consultant to the Israeli government on various projects designed to promote social and economic development in modern Israel. She previously presented on CDAs to government officials in Israel in 2010 to a widely positive response. Her proposal was championed by Isaac Herzog, former Minister of Welfare & Social Services, and is currently awaiting approval and further support in Israel’s Parliament. Grinstein-Weiss is also serving as the Principal Investigator for a research study on the financial health of families caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, commissioned by the Israeli Welfare Ministry.
Megan Brewster, who serves as the assistant to CSD Associate Director Michal Grinstein-Weiss, wrote this article. She is responsible for coordinating various communications, programming and administrative efforts on behalf of CSD leadership.