From the perspective of local actors in Argentina:
What are the country’s main public policy achievements regarding the issue of care?
What major challenges remain?
What prevents early childhood care from becoming a priority?
Equity for Children participates in this conversation and debate and is active on the debate about limitations to early childhood care urban policy development.
To address some of these issues, we share the main concepts raised in the Colloquium Care and Childhood: Practices, opportunities and tensions. This is one of the events in the series Perspectives on children and urban social issues that we developed in conjunction with our partners, The Center for Urban Studies and Research in Social Policy – UNTREF, in 2014.
The Colloquium presented an approach to care and childhood from the perspective of local actors and agencies at different governmental levels. The achievements, challenges and limitations were highlighted by various participants, in the hopes of coming up with a well articulated agenda of work.
Childcare often rests on the shoulders of families and specifically on women. The main challenge for Latin America is to raise the issue of care beyond that of a maternal issue to one that is central to the development of every community. This can take many forms: license extension, greater availability of childcare, extension of the compulsory entry-level segment or conditional cash transfers. However, the first step must be legislation to develop and protect policy and institutional advances. Care and the educational approach for young children need to be gradually incorporated into services aimed at this population group.
 The Colloquium Care and Childhood: Practices, opportunities and tensions was held on September 25, 2014 in Buenos Aires, organized by Equidad para la Infancia with UNTREF, Arcor Foundation and the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIPE-UNESCO).
The colloquium included presentations by:
- Vanesa D´Alessandre, Sistema de Información sobre la Primera Infancia en América Latina – SIPI (IIPE-UNESCO)
- Gladys Kochen, Coordinator of Projects in IIPE-UNESCO.
- Alberto Minujin, Proffessor and Researcher, CEIPSU -UNTREF/ Equidad para la Infancia.
- Vilma Paura, Coordinator of Master in Urban Social Polocies, CEIPSU- UNTREF.
- Cristina Fraccia, Centro de Atención y Fortalecimiento Familiar (CAFF), Tigre.
- Valeria Rómoli, Municipality of Junín – Mendoza.
- Simón Gómez, Programa de Infancia de la Fundación de Organización Comunitaria (FOC). Red de jardines
- maternales comunitarios.
- Rubén Zárate, Minister of Education of Chubut.
- Estela Barba, Coordinator of the Program “Formación con Equidad para el Trabajo Decente”, Ministerio de Trabajo,
- Empleo y Seguridad Social.
- Adrián Rozengardt, Director de Gestión de Centros de Desarrollo Infantil de la Secretaría de la Niñez, Adolescencia
- y Familia (SENAF).
- Vanesa Paz, Comisión Nacional para la Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil (CONAETI)
In addition to the roles of the state, the family and the marketplace, other key points central to the issue of childcare included the relationship between education and social assistance and which state sector should be responsible for early childhood — schools, childcare or other services. On the other hand, Also, the interrelationship between public and private provision of care is a complex one. How far the state can and should intervene to ensure greater equity for children is a key issue. In this context, the experience in Argentina is a novel one, with strong expansion and development of the informal system including community models proposing a new way of integrating these elements.
Another area of analysis arises from making early childhood education a key policy priority. Educational institutions emerge as places that allow children to leave the family environment and grow. The educational institutions become organizers of new possibilities for children. The main challenge is how to develop the different primary, preschool and secondary educational systems and how to develop the national, provincial, community and municipal levels of government.
Another major challenge for the state is the issue of caregivers – be they from each of these institutions or in the home – and how their roles can be professionalized, taking gender differences into account. In this regard, it is important to develop employment policies that incorporate gender perspective and to provide input about professionalizing the job of caretaker.
Finally, strengthening care policies in rural areas is extremely important so that the needs of children of agricultural workers are met. Only four percent of the institutions providing care in Argentina are located in rural areas. We must not lose sight of family diversity and the issues it raises in all homes and situations, thereby creating alternatives for all that contribute to the full realization of children’s rights.