In an effort to help curb the prevalence of child labor in the country, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is intensifying the conduct of Family Development Sessions (FDS) for parent-beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to enhance their parental roles and become more aware of the need to ensure the welfare of their children.
Based on the 2011 Survey on Children conducted by the National Statistics Office, there are 5.492 million working children aged 5-17 years old as of October 2011. Of this number, 2.993 million or 54.5 percent children are exposed to hazardous child labor.
“We hope that through the FDS, we would be able to impart to the parents that they should not allow their minor-children to work because working at a tender age has negative effects on the children’s growth and development,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
FDS is one of the program conditions of Pantawid Pamilya, which provides cash grants to poor families to enable them to meet their children’s health and education needs.
It serves as a venue where topics on effective parenting, husband and wife relationships, child development, laws affecting the Filipino family, gender and development, and home management are discussed.
Through the FDS, parents are also informed of their obligations that they need to fulfill not only as husband and wife but also as parents and community members. It consists of three modules, namely: Paglalatag ng Pundasyon ng Programang Pantawid Pamilya, Paghahanda at Pangangalaga ng Pamilyang Pilipino, and Partisipasyon ng Pamilyang Pilipino sa Gawaing Pang Komunidad.
Preventing children from untimely labor
Sec. Soliman also cited the role of Pantawid Pamilya in reducing the incidence of child labor. In ensuring that children go to school, they are steered away from a life on the streets and from premature employment.
As of December 2014, around 11,119,385 children-beneficiaries, 0-18 years old are being served by Pantawid Pamilya.
Based on the results of the Second Wave Impact Evaluation of Pantawid Pamilya, the enrolment rate of elementary and high school children are high for Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries.
“The high enrolment rate of these children indicates that they are not engaged in any form of child labor,” Sec. Soliman emphasized.
Community, center-based services
In 2014, the Department provided appropriate services and programs to 30 children-victims of child labor who were rescued from different industries such as pyrotechnic, deep-sea fishing, sugar cane plantation, mining and quarrying, domestic work, as well as prostitution.
Sec. Soliman explained, “DSWD handles each case of child labor victim differently. There are those who can be served within the community, while others are served in our centers.”
Some of the services provided within the community are Parent Effectiveness Seminars to ensure that parents participate in the child’s development, as well as continued counseling sessions for both the child and the parents.
DSWD also implements supplementary feeding programs in vulnerable communities to give proper nutrition and health care to the children.
In cases where children-victims were found to need more care and direct supervision, DSWD places them in centers like the Haven for Children, to ensure that they are treated accordingly.
At the center they are given rehabilitative services such as psycho-social, educational, homelife, dietary, health, recreational, cultural, and spiritual enhancement. They are also provided with play and music therapy.
Older children are given productivity skills training to enable them to gain some skills in preparation for their eventual mainstreaming to their respective communities.
Reporting child labor cases
“Children begging for the family’s needs is also a form of child labor. Sometimes, it is the parents who urged them to do so,” the Secretary added.
The Secretary urged the public to refrain from giving alms to children-mendicants so as not to further encourage them to continue with this risky activity.
She advised the public that if they want to help mendicants, they can channel their assistance through agencies and licensed/accredited non-government organizations, or to religious institutions.
DSWD is urging all sectors in society to immediately report any occurrence of child labor to government authorities.
DSWD has its 24-hour Crisis Intervention Units (CIU) in all its regional offices where the public can report cases of child labor. For the National Capital Region (NCR), the public may directly report at (02) 488-2861.
It also has a Twitter account, @savestreetkids, where the public can report sightings of street children. DSWD will conduct rescue operations after receipt of tweets. ###