During the week of October 21st, Peru’s Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion (MIDIS) dedicated its outstanding annual event, Social Inclusion Week, to the topic of early childhood. A huge sign of Peru’s commitment to early childhood is that the event was kicked off by the nation’s president along with the ministers of Development and Social Inclusion, Health, Education, and Women and Vulnerable Populations.
Both President Ollanta Humala as well as Mónica Rubio, Minister of Development and Social Inclusion, highlighted in their speeches all of the efforts that Peru has undertaken in the last two years to offer Peruvian children a better start from the very beginning of life, in addition to the challenges that remain. And these issues are more than just trivial concerns.
With the creation of MIDIS and the nationwide program Cuna Más, Peru has taken significant steps toward addressing early childhood care, actions that require great political and strategic leadership. It’s no coincidence that many countries have been keeping a close eye on the Peruvian experience in recent years. Here I’d like to highlight three of the initiatives:
1. One of the pillars of the National Strategy “Include to Grow” is precisely early childhood development. The country has made strides in the preparation of the guidelines for coordinated intersectoral and intergovernmental management aimed at promoting early childhood development, which offer a roadmap to the critical elements of comprehensive early childhood care. A crucial aspect of these guidelines is that they seek to coordinate care around the needs of children from birth to age 5. In other words, they focus on children and the public services provided by different levels of government and various sectors based on their needs. This is a revolutionary approach to addressing the needs of Peru’s children.
2. The Cuna Más program offers daycare services to more than 55,000 children of working mothers under the age of 3, in marginal urban areas of Peru. Over the last two years, the program has worked to tackle a complex issue: the quality of child care services. There are a number of initiatives underway that seek to improve the equipment at child care centers, train staff on a new educational model that directs the children’s activities, reorganize administrative aspects of service delivery, and improve the skills of those in charge of caring for the children. The program is improving its standards and developing a system to monitor them. In other words, a quality assurance system for the service is being built. This video describes the program’s proposed daycare services.
3. The Cuna Más program has also created a new form of care focused on the poorest rural districts of the country: family accompaniment. Through weekly sessions conducted by trained community workers, the hope is to strengthen Peruvian families by improving parenting skills that encourage learning and development of children. In the implementation of this initiative, one element that stands out is the attention the program has given to developing an intervention that, both in terms of its operation and its content, is relevant in rural Peru.
As Florencia commented a few days ago on this blog, a huge challenge remains to close the gaps in nutrition and development that have been documented in Peru. On the occasion of the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion’s second anniversary, we would like to join in the recognition of the progress that has been made in recent years.