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Saving Lives: Effective Program Strategies for Street and Working Children

This monograph examines the programs of three NGOs in order to identify the elements that enable them to bring about their desired changes in children and other beneficiaries. It hopes to provide insights into program responses that are appropriate to the needs of street and working children. NGOs include the Pangarap Shelter, Bahay Tuluyan and the Maryville Community Development Center (MCDC). Bahay Tuluyan reaches hard-core street children, and through its shelters provides them with their immediate needs and rehabilitates them. The approach is based on drawing experiences from the children which serve to inform a dynamic program that both rehabilitates and empowers children, on top of giving them skills that the formal educational system cannot provide. Pangarap Shelter beneficiaries are also hard-core street children whose immediate needs, like food and shelter, must be provided if they are to leave the streets. They also need rehabilitation if they are to recover from the trauma and negative effects of living in the streets. Finally, these children who come from broken families need alternatives to family care because they have little chance of reintegrating with their families. The approach of MCDC highlights the importance of family-centered and community-based strategies as a preventive and curative solution to the problem of street and working children. MCDC’s intervention functions as a safety net against more serious crises for children. The key intervention elements are educational assistance, training of community leaders, value formation, networking and advocacy, and livelihood development. Together, these address the complex and multi-level problems faced by poor families and children. Based on the three cases, the author presents characteristics of effective programs for street children, namely: 1. Integrated and multi-level strategies. Such strategies include provision of food, shelter, clothing as well as counseling and value formation; subsidizing children’s education to reduce the working hours of children while helping families develop coping strategies through family enrichment programs and family outreach; and giving beneficiaries access to social services while advocating and promoting a more child-sensitive and self-reliant community. 2. Responsive, dynamic and innovative. There is a continual evolution of programs to better respond to the needs of the clients/ beneficiaries. 3. Participatory and empowering. Being able to participate leads to improved self-confidence and sense of self-worth. 4. Sustainable. The sustainability of programs is associated with if not dependent on the extent to which beneficiary participation and empowerment have been achieved. While it is true that financial constraints could hamper the sustainability of a program or initiative, this fact only underscores the need to find alternative or innovative ways to make funds available to NGOs. And because of a very fluid population of street children, the impact of their initiatives could be very limited.


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