San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla Launches National Day Care Program

Costa Rica’s first female president officially began the national daycare network today with a pledge of ¢890 million ($1.8 million) to ten of the country’s poorest communities.

The money is expected to reach 400 children, under five years of age, enabling their mothers or fathers to pursue jobs outside the home.

But the effort is so much more than a push to open more day care centers, President Laura Chinchilla said at a press conference on Monday. The idea is to reach children at a critical stage in their development and start every Costa Rican off with the same opportunities.

“This is an area in which we continue to have many weaknesses,” she said.

The money will be concentrated on expanding existing resources such as community homes and government-run daycare centers, and offering loans to more women to manage centers from their homes.

The daycare plan is being introduced as part of a larger agenda item of reducing poverty in Costa Rica a full 10 percent, Chinchilla said.

Today, aid arrives to 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 a collective push from all sides to get them back on their feet.

By bringing aid to communities in an integral way, she hopes to permanently reduce poverty.

The ten communities her administration is focusing on for the day care initiative – which also form part of the poverty relief plan – include Los Chiles, Guatuso, Upala, La Cruz, Santa Cruz, Nicoya, Cartago, Curridibat, Heredia and San José.

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