Integrated Program for Neglected and Abused Children
Legaspi City, as an urbanizing city in southern Luzon, experienced urban-related problems such as squatting, crimes and juvenile delinquency. But the problem which the city government of Legaspi gave special focus to was the abused, abandoned, neglected and exploited children. The children or those below 18 years old comprised about 45.6% of the 141,657 total population of Legaspi City. With the alarming 75 and 73 registered child abuse cases in 1996 and 1997, respectively, the city government of Legaspi took an active role in the creation of the Integrated Program for Neglected and Abused Children in 1997. It was noted, prior to the program, that there was no coordination among agencies resulting in duplication of functions on children-related issues.
The LGU adopted the Multi/Inter-Disciplinary Team Approach (MITA), to address effectively children-related problems of the city. The team is composed of NGOs, LGU and devolved and national line agencies such as the City Government, City Social Welfare & Development Office (CSWDO), City Health Office (CHO), City Prosecution Office (CPO), City Jail, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Department of Interior & Local Government (DILG), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Good Shepherd Home, Social Action Center, and Child Sponsorship for Community Development, Inc. The overall objective of the program is to provide services and activities designed for the care, protection, and rehabilitation of children in difficult situations to ensure their social adjustment and to restore their confidence so they can be active members of society. It focuses on the prevention of child abuse and provision of services for child abuse-related problems.
Among the program’s accomplishments are the establishment of 71 day care centers that have served 3,779 children, two Child Minding Centers, and the Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention Unit (CAPIU) which has assisted 141 street children from 118 families through counseling and referrals. Of the 141 street children, 136 were sent back to school, and 9,557 families of children have been given various assistance such as finances, food, counseling and training. Due to the strong advocacy and impact of the program, reports on cases of abuse by non-relatives of victims have increased, sensationalized child abuse cases are now absent in the media, and offenses against children in 1999 were less serious compared to those in the previous years.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 2000 Galing Pook Awards.