Chile

‘Chile Grows with You’ policy promotes early childhood development

UNICEF Image
© Presidency of the Republic of Chile
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at the opening of a day care centre in Santiago’s poor Maipu neighbourhood as part of the ‘Chile Grows with You’ policy supporting early childhood development.

Early childhood care and education is the theme of the 2007 ‘Education for All Global Monitoring Report’ to be launched by UNESCO and UNICEF on 26 October. Here is the first in a series of related stories.

By Sabine Dolan

NEW YORK, USA, 19 October 2006 – The Government of Chile has launched a social policy initiative promoting full support for the country’s children from birth.

Known as Chile Crece Contigo (‘Chile Grows with You’), the new policy, which was launched by President Michelle Bachelet, is the first of its kind in Latin America.

Thanks to new mechanisms of support and protection established under the policy, Chilean children from the poorest families will now be eligible to attend day care centres and pre-schools for free.

‘Investing in early childhood’

“The significance of this policy, for us as UNICEF, is that children are being considered by the new government as a central point of the new political agenda,” says UNICEF’s Representative in Chile, Egidio Crotti.

“This means that investing in children is considered a key element for the development of the country, and I think that this is very important, the fact that we start investing in early childhood,” he adds.

UNICEF Image
© Presidency of the Republic of Chile
Along with young residents of the low-income Maipu district, President Bachelet inaugurates a children’s garden.

The Chile Grows with You initiative offers specialized aid in education, maternity care and health services for all children and their families. The programme offers direct action to help the poorest 40 per cent of households – those who make less than 300,000 pesos (about $560) per month.

Universal day care

The policy emphasis on universal day care for poor children supports mothers such as 25-year-old Jessica Borges Calquin, who lives with her two children in the town of Rancagua, near Santiago.

“A few weeks ago, I found out that I was going to become a mother again,” says Ms. Borges, who recently attended the inauguration of the Sala Luna day care centre for children under the age of two. “The anxiety of where I could leave my child disappeared because this day care centre solves my problem.

“At the day care,” she notes, “I believe that I’ve found all the things that my children need: affection, commitment, dedication and above all else, the love and care that the caregivers bring to the kids.”

Importance of monitoring

Mr. Crotti says the new policy promotes all of UNICEF’s priorities in Chile: “First of all, to ensure that all children have access to primary health care, [and] that all the families receive tools to better support the growth of their children not only in terms of health and nutrition, but also psychological support.”

The UNICEF Representative also stresses the importance of monitoring the overall situation of children in Chile – especially those who may be most vulnerable, including indigenous children and children from migrant populations.

The Chile Grows with You initiative is gradually being implemented across the country and is expected to be fully in effect by 2009.


 

 

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20 October 2006:
Regional Education Adviser in Latin America and the Caribbean Garren Lumpkin discusses the scope of early child development programmes in the region.
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18 October 2006:
UNICEF Representative in Chile Egidio Crotti talks about the country’s launch of a new early childhood policy, ‘Chile Grows with You’.
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