About 5,000 children aged 18 years old and below roamed the streets of Cebu City as scavengers, beggars, snatchers and prostitutes. These children were either abandoned, orphaned and/or neglected by very poor parents within the city and from nearby municipalities and provinces. As a response to this problem, the Cebu City Task Force on Streetchildren was launched in July 1989 by the Cebu City government and the private sector.
The task force, an umbrella organization of 10 non-government organizations (NGOs), 10 government organizations (GOs) and 4 cooperating agencies, employed three approaches to the problem: (1) center-based which provides temporary shelter, clean clothes, food, education, skills training to prepare them for life outside the center; (2) the community-based approach is a preventive measure in depressed areas where kids are regarded as potential street children which involves the following activities: informal education, basic health programs, sessions on parenting, skills training and livelihood programs; and (3) street-based which conducts informal and spontaneous sessions through the "school on wheels" to impart knowledge, values and skills to children in the streets. In addition, two yearly events are held—the children's convention in December and the summer camp participated by around 800 children.
As a result of the effort of the task force, there has been a significant decrease in the number of street children and children apprehended for shoplifting and other petty crimes. The minors who are apprehended are brought to the drop-in center for safekeeping while the parents are still being contacted. The program also advocates for the passage of laws to protect children against any neglect, cruelty and exploitation, and to compel families of street children to assume parental responsibilities more effectively. Families are provided with family life education, spiritual and moral values enrichment and essential material support. The cities of Bacolod, Baguio, and Olongapo as well as the neighboring areas of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu have sought the assistance of the city government for the replication of the program in their respective areas.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1994 Galing Pook Awards.