The Valenzuela City Government is bent on keeping its thoroughfares free of street children by extending cash assistance and implementing programs that will help sustain their education.
The City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) granted some 23 children with cash assistance of PhP 2,000 at a simple ceremony held at the New City Government Complex recently.
The turnover is part of the Education Assistance Program for Street Children implemented throughout the National Capital Region (NCR) by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in coordination with Local Government Units (LGUs).
DSWD-NCR Special Projects Unit Officer, Rodel Paguirigan said, “the program targets street children identified and endorsed by the local social welfare offices and validated by DSWD-NCR social workers.”
“This program aims to provide after-care services to rescued and reached-out street children and to encourage them to develop their full potentials through formal education,” he stressed.
CSWDO Officer-in-Charge, Dorothy Evangelista said the youths are all enrolled this school year but have been rescued by local authorities from busy streets engaged in different activities such as begging and vagrancy.
Some of the rescued youths were foundlings and run aways, like the case of a 9-year old boy from Barangay Marulas. The boy left home after a neighbor threatened to harm him for alleged stealing of an umbrella. He sought refuge at the SM Center Valenzuela overpass for four days. The boy said he survived away from his parent's care by selling scraps. Barangay officials rescued him and was turned over to the CSWDO.
The boy, a grade one pupil, is now at the custody of his parents who vowed to watch him over more carefully and would use the cash assistance for his schooling.
Ms. Evangelista, however, noted that not all street children rescued in different parts of Valenzuela City are actual local residents. “A number of them are transients from nearby towns and cities and would come here to beg in our streets,” she said. “We turn them over to the respective authorities.”
She strongly urged the parents and guardians of the beneficiaries to use the money in funding their children’s schooling needs such as daily allowance or in buying supplies. “Gamitin po natin ito para makapasok ang ating mga anak araw-araw at makagawa ng kanilang mga assignment o project dahil kumpleto sila sa gamit. (Let us use this cash to ensure are children are able to go to school everyday and are able to make their assignments and projects because they have all the supplies they need.)” She advised them. “Hindi po natin ito ipambibili ng electric fan. (We will not use this to buy an electric fan),” she quipped.
She also asked the parents to liquidate their spendings by providing receipts, so they would be considered for additional financial assistance.
City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian, on the other hand, also took time to personally hand over the cash assistance to beneficiaries. In a conversation with their parents and guradians, the Chief Executive reminded them of “responsible parenting is essential in keeping [their] children off the streets.”
They will be attending the Parent Effective Service (PES) conducted regularly by the CSWDO at Bahay Kalinga in Barangay Veinte Reales. The PES aims indigent parents to become more aware of their crucial roles in raising their children. This form of government intervention seeks to curb urban problems bred by domestic-related issues.