Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation

Pioneering a personal budget model as part of national social services

In 2015, Israel Unlimited, a partnership between the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Government of Israel and the Ruderman Family Foundation, started a personal budget model for people with disabilities by organizing workshops with leaders and policy makers from Israel and the United States to learn about the person-centred approach. Although the concept of a personal budget is an established practice in the United States and parts of Europe, it is new for Israel. Between 2016 and 2018, some 200 professionals have been extensively trained and 50 people with a variety of disabilities have benefitted. In 2019, another 300 beneficiaries will join the program.

“By perfectly matching Naama’s needs, she took a giant leap forward and started reading words and short sentences. I do not have enough words to say thanks for what the program has meant to my daughter.”

About the practice at a glance
Name of Innovative Practice:Personal budget model
Organisation:JDC Israel Unlimited
of Implementation


  • During the pre-pilot phase the personal budgeting model operated in ten locations throughout Israel.
  • The programme is fully supported by the Israeli Government, which shares the JDC’s vision for testing and improving the programme through a pilot stage before it is rolled-out nationally.


In Israel, the current social system support for people with disabilities is determined by the type of disability and is focused on the service provider, not on the disabled person’s needs and desires.


JDC Israel Unlimited Common sport activties.

Personal budgeting is a shift from a disability-orientated medical model towards a holistic person-centred model. It is based on the principle that people with disabilities understand their needs better than anyone else and that they have the right and the ability to make decisions regarding their own lives. In 2015 the JDC organized meetings with Israeli social policy makers and professionals from abroad to lay the groundwork for a personal budgeting programme in Israel. After demonstrating that a personal budget could also achieve some cost savings, authorities agreed on a pilot project.

The programme provides a care coordinator for each participant, who engages in a direct and respectful discussion with the participant about his/her needs, goals, dreams, concerns, and opportunities for growth. Once they have established care goals together, the participant is provided with a flexible and individualized basket of services based on a personal budget allocation. Some services may be long term, such as personal assistance, and some may be short term, such as training programmes. For all services, desired outcomes are clearly defined and progress towards them is regularly assessed. In 2017 and 2018, 200 professionals have been trained and the first group of beneficiaries has enjoyed their personal budgets.


The total cost for 2018 was $439,477 and was split between Israel Unlimited (a partnership of the JDC, the government of Israel and the Ruderman Family Foundation) and the Ted Arison Family Foundation.

After the initial international workshops, the JDC created a professional manual on how to implement the model. In 2018 the pre-pilot phase was completed with 50 participants. The next step of the test phase is to raise the number of participants to 300 in 2019. The JDC is working in close cooperation with the Government of Israel and is planning a step-by-step expansion.

The model is designed to be replicated, but the JDC is aware that a full implementation will take time and require acceptance by service providers, which will need to adjust their business models. The organization expects that after a successful completion of the pilot phase the programme will be expanded throughout the country and will become a standard social service.

A person on the way to joint activities.


Avital Sandler-Loeff


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