Costa Rica‘s first female president, Laura Chinchilla, officially launched the National Daycare Network today with a pledge of ¢890 million ($1.8 million) to the poorest communities in ten areas of the country.
The money is expected to bring care to 400 children under five years of age, enabling their mothers or fathers to pursue jobs outside the home.
The effort is much more than just a push to open more day care centers, Chinchilla said at a press conference on Monday. The idea of the network is to reach children at a critical stage in their development so that every Costa Rican starts life with the same opportunities.
Early childcare is an area in which Costa Rica continues to have many shortcomings, she said.
The money will be used to expand existing facilities such as community homes and government-run daycare centers, and to offer loans so that more women can operate daycare centers from their homes.
The plan is being introduced as part of a larger agenda of reducing extreme poverty in Costa Rica by a full 10 percent, Chinchilla said.
At present, aid arrives to poor homes in pieces. Sometimes a son or daughter can get a scholarship, other times a parent receives job training, but what these families need, Chinchilla said, is an integrated push from all sides to get them on their feet.
By bringing aid to communities in an integral way, she hopes to permanently reduce poverty.
In keeping with this coordinated approach, the ten areas where the administration is focusing the daycare initiative are also the focus of the poverty relief plan. These include Los Chiles, Guatuso, Upala, La Cruz, Santa Cruz, Nicoya, Cartago, Curridibat, Heredia and San José.