Care and support systems in Latin America and the Caribbean

A framework for UNICEF action

Mamá, niña y niño


Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is undergoing important changes in care. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed shortcomings in the way care and support needs are managed in the region, transforming a decades-long demand by women's organizations into a priority for policy dialogue and reform of social protection systems. The urgency of governments arises from the understanding that demographic trends, the incorporation of women into the labor market, and the persistence of social gender norms that distribute the burden of care and support activities very unevenly generate profound effects that closely link the full development of children and adolescents, gender equity, and the prospects for inclusive economic growth in the region.

This technical note presents the state of the debate on care and support in the region and its recent institutional and political concretion: comprehensive care systems. It also stresses the importance of mainstreaming UNICEF's child-centred agenda into the debates and transformations taking place in LAC; and explains why it is crucial for children and adolescents, including children with disabilities, to move beyond a vision of care built on the possibilities of each family and replace it with a rights-based approach: one that guarantees universality and equity, and that protects both the people cared for and their caregivers.

Two women take care of a boy
Carlos Gailán, Mónica Rubio, Gerardo Escaroz, Florencia Alejandre
Publication date
Spanish, English