Strengthening Policies for Early Childhood Development in Argentina and Brazil
Developing technical exchange initiatives in Argentina and Brazil towards strengthening public policies for the promotion of early infant development
Brazil has made great progress in recent years in the creation of public policies for women, mothers and children. With the implementation of the Unified Health System, the Unified Social Assistance System, the right to basic education and greater access to childcare centres, Brazilian children live in better conditions today than they did 30 years ago. Furthermore, the Criança Feliz (Happy Child) programme aims to promote the integral development of children through the strengthening of family skills, seeking to contribute to the breaking of the cycle of poverty, the reduction of violence, the reduction of truancy and other social benefits.
However, inequality persists in the country, and many poor families live in a situation of social risk and vulnerability. In this context, there is a great consensus on the need to invest in human development and economic growth, and in the fight against social inequalities, focusing on health, early childhood education and childcare, especially in early childhood, the age group from birth to six years.
Towards a Solution
This project aimed to develop knowledge exchange initiatives on early childhood development policies between the technical teams of Primeros Años programme of Argentina and the Criança Feliz programme of Brazil. The aim was to generate new knowledge about interventions in vulnerable families with young children, which could enhance the impact of public policies aimed at improving their living conditions. In doing so, this project fulfils Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 – End poverty in all its forms everywhere, by promoting the optimization of social protection instruments to prevent and reduce poverty, and to provide a safety net for young children.
Multidisciplinary working teams of technicians from the Ministry of Social Development and the National Council for the Coordination of the Primeros Años Programme of Argentina, and the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Citizenship of Brazil were created in order to share experiences and knowledge, as well as information about the challenges faced in the implementation of the early childhood development programmes in both countries. These teams also exchanged information on techniques and methodologies used in interventions with families with children of 0–6 years in the territory, as well as tools for monitoring and evaluating programmes. Visits were conducted to family homes in nine locations from eight states of Argentina, and seven locations from seven states of Brazil, where they were able to exchange with local technicians and facilitators and participate in community training meetings or community organizations.
Finally, and most importantly, the mission of the technicians involved in this initiative was to train local actors engaged in the implementation of the Primeros Años and Criança Feliz programmes in the respective countries: 130 Argentine technicians at the national and provincial levels, 35 technicians from the Federal Government of Brazil, and 2,500 municipal supervisors and 10,600 municipal visitors from Brazil.
One of the main results of the exchanges was the design and development of successful methodologies and techniques of intervention in families with children of 0–4 years in Argentina and of 0–6 years in Brazil in vulnerable situations. The technical areas of the programmes (information production and evaluation, content, communication) broadened the teams’ view on the scope of the respective practices, improving their development and local activities, contributing specifically to the systematization of the methodology of visits, parenting and support meetings, and the transmission of the network work approach.
Also, as a guarantee of the sustainability of the initiative, the national and local officials and technicians of both programmes who participated received the necessary training to be able to replicate and adapt what they learned to their practices and the respective local realities.
In Argentina, the initiative benefited 155,000 families with children of 0–4 who live in poverty and in Brazil, it benefitted 3 million children of 0–3 years whose families are beneficiaries of the Programa Bolsa Familia (Family Grant Programme), 640,000 pregnant women from the same programme, 75,000 children whose families are beneficiaries of the continued payment benefits, as well as 8,600 children from families in shelter services in Brazil.
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