Public Policies and Social Spending for Children
In order to guarantee the rights of children and adolescents, as well as creating laws that adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, institutional reforms that facilitate the fulfilment of the law and the delivery of basic social services are also needed. This way a cultural change towards human rights is possible in the medium and long term, especially when it comes to the rights of minors.
In order to achieve this, the human rights for children and adolescents have to be placed at the centre of public policies (set of objectives, actions and results) – especially in budgetary policy.
Designing public policies involves a political negotiation processes between several governmental and non-governmental actors, individuals and groups, with a view to reach political decisions about action plans and programmes. These policies may involve State intervention in a specific sector (sectorial policies), or tackling a particular problem or issue (policies for children or for the environment).
For institutional reform as well as for the design and implementation of social policies, economic and social policies need to be designed with the wellbeing and rights of all citizens in mind. This means working towards universal access to basic social services (health, education, nutrition, drinking water and sanitation) and a dignified income for all families.
To break the cycle of poverty, social spending has to be focused on the under-18 age group, which is estimated at 3,476,000 or almost 40% of the Dominican population.
According to the 2006 State of the World’s Children Report published by UNICEF, social advances in the Dominican Republic measured by life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, low birth weight, adult literacy levels, are inadequate in comparison with other countries in the region with similar rates of economic growth.
In the Dominican Republic, UNICEF campaigns for increased social investment and promoted good practices in institutional administration that will ensure that social investment has a positive impact on the lives of boys, girls and young people, especially in the most excluded sectors. At the same time it promotes the concept of accountability in the use of resources in a transparent manner and in citizen participation.
UNICEF is currently promoting the creation of a technical team made up of civil society, government organisations and other United Nations agencies for monitoring and following up social spending, though budget analysis, creation of a citizen observatory and the design of a Children’s Rights index.
Using this strategy, the index will measure the impact that social spending has on children and young people’s wellbeing.
The greatest challenge for this initiative is: to overcome the gap between the richest and poorest as soon as possible, by maintaining fiscal stability, encouraging economic progress, and defining the way forward based on an extensive process of dialogue and citizen consensus.