DSWD to expand anti-poverty programs

By Rainier Allan Ronda, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 05 2014 11:43 AM | Updated as of Jan 05 2014 07:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is ready to expand its two core poverty reduction programs -- the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and Kapitbisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) -- this year.

While the DSWD is still busy in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts for thousands of families affected by Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas, Secretary Dinky Soliman said her department would pursue the expansion of the 4Ps, or conditional cash transfer program, and the Kalahi-CIDSS.

“As 2014 is the year of the wooden horse, we will be galloping to positive change, institutionalizing reforms to make it irreversible,” Soliman said as she presented the DSWD’s 2013 yearend report to the media.

With P63 billion approved for the 4Ps, Soliman said the DSWD is set to expand the program’s coverage from 0-14 to 14-18 years old, allowing the children of beneficiaries to get cash grants until they finish high school.

About 2.2 million children are expected to benefit from the expansion of 4Ps, which has 3.9 million family-beneficiaries.

Under the expanded 4Ps to be carried out at the start of school year 2014-2015, each child aged 14 to 18 would get an additional P500.

“We are just validating where these children are,” Soliman said, adding that there will more “demanding” conditions for the additional P500 cash grant.

“First, they will not only be required to have an attendance rate of not less than 85 percent but 100 percent,” Soliman said.

“We will be giving them P500 (higher by P200 from the P300 being given to a 4Ps family beneficiary for having a child or children go to school and have an attendance of not less than 85 percent),” she said.

“And they should not have a failing grade in any subject,” she added. “We want to make sure that these children value the help they are getting.”

Soliman said the 4Ps’ expansion is seen to improve the chances of children of beneficiaries in getting work by as much as 42 to 45 percent, especially with the Department of Education’s Kindergarten + 12 basic education curriculum that adds two more years of high school heavy on technical vocational education and training.

To date, the 4Ps covers eight million children aged three to 14, including 6.3 million children in the elementary and pre-school levels, and 1.7 million in high school.

A family-beneficiary currently gets P300 per child aged three to 14 who goes to school and posts a minimum attendance rate of 85 percent.

If expanded to 14 to 18 year olds, the DSWD expects the total 4Ps’ coverage to hit 10.2 million in 1,627 cities and municipalities all over the country.

The expansion seeks to address observations that the program is not effective in lifting the poor out of poverty.

Family-beneficiaries receive cash grants on the condition that pregnant women undergo prenatal checkups and give birth in accredited birthing facilities, mothers must undergo postnatal checkup, children aged zero to five must undergo preventive health checkup, children aged six to 14 must receive deworming pills at least twice a year, children aged three to 14 must attend school, and parents or guardians must attend the family development session.

For the Kalahi-CIDSS program this year, the DSWD seeks to cover an additional 323,325 households in 10,714 barangays in 486 poor municipalities nationwide, and facilitate environmental protection through community-driven development by implementing such a modality for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Bangsamoro in cooperation with the regional government and the regional DSWD.

The Micro-Enterprise Development and Guaranteed Employment Tracks will serve 405,902 Set 3 4Ps’ beneficiaries and cover an additional 23,660 beneficiaries.