Child-friendly Hall of Fame: Small steps, giant leaps

FOR THE FIFTH time, the city has bested the other local government units in the implementation of child-friendly programs, earning us a Hall of Fame Award for gaining the tilt three times in a row since 2013. The city won the award earlier in 1998 and 1999.

It was President Rodrigo R. Duterte himself who conferred the award to officials of his hometown, in a ceremony held earlier this week at the Malacanang Palace.

Photos by Bing Gonzales and Yas D. Ocampo

4

The national policy framework for the protection of children is undergoing a renovation as far as the Department of Social Welfare is concerned, with a curfew for minors both earning the praises of those in need of better public security measures and the ire of critics claiming injustice for the poor.

According to Mayor Duterte, the award shows the desire of the local government for the children “to be educated, fed, clothed, and provided with a safe home.”

What connects both policies is how the city is already doing its social protection measures for children while the national framework is still in its infancy.

But this is not to say that the city has done everything already.

According to the current local policy framework, the city is still working on providing better facilities and programs for the city’s children.

Part of this is the construction of day care centers, the beginning of formal schooling for the city’s children.

The inclusion of the day care centers comes amid a theory that a better future awaits students who complete elementary education. The Millennium Development Goals once targeted a 100% completion rate by 2015, the time of the conferment of the award. While 90% of the city’s school children went to school, according to data from five years ago, the survival rate at the time was still around 63%, despite the goal of universal education.

And so, the city creates more pre-schools.

According to the City Social Services and Development Office, the city had 12,151 enrollees in private pre-school institution and 6,366 pupils in public school pre-schools.

Barangays such as 5A, 23C, 31D, and Brgy Pampanga were allocated with additional day care centers to meet an increase in clients, while the city has constructed Barangays 8A and 19B.

In every school district, the city government, along with private sector partners, launched elecctronic library projects, which provided virtual libraries in every school district.

In terms of environmental improvement, the city encourages the provision of open spaces, tree parks and playgrounds in each barangay.

The Paginhawaan Drop-in Center is also one of the city’s priority projects for children in conflict with the law, part of its rehabilitation component for CICLs.

The city’s policy framework also includes the creation of PWD care centers for children with disabilities and special needs, especially in the barangays.

Meanwhile, the city has set up SPED schools in each of the three congressional districts.

The national government’s awarding of the title comes after a thorough review of the city’s projects, with the validation of the city’s programs being held late 2015.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development visited four random barangays to review the existing policies for the sector, while the agency also validated policies for the entire city.

The city’s award is a result of a tight competition with Baguio, Bacolod, and Mandaluyong.

In the midst of a local desire for child-friendly programs, the city has had to compromise, too, as far as child-friendly policies were concerned.

The city council, for example, had to let go of a memorandum of agreement with the Council of Welfare for Children, which conferred the child-friendly award to the city, because it would have been redundant with the functions of the Department of Interior and Local Government, according to an earlier report.

The committee on children said that the agreement would have trained empowered implementors of child-friendly practices, but the committee deemed the idea to be no longer needed.

At the same time, the city has already gained ground with child-friendly projects, such as the new child-minding centers for working parents, the House of Hope ward for children with cancer, as well as residences for children prone to abuse.

And it is with these kinds of awards that the city is shown that it can do more.

In a statement, Mayor Sara Z. Duterte said she was elated with the achievement, with the city needing a boost in the midst of national-scale treatments of social welfare policies, especially for children who are either in conflict or are by default vulnerable sectors.

But while the city is jubilant with the achievement, policy statements need translating in terms of infrastructure and services, especially in the city such as Davao.

Posted in HEADLINES