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Is Cash the Answer? Lessons for Child Protection Programming from Peru: The Juntos Together Program Has the Potential to Improve Children's Care and Protection

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2014 Pages: 383-394
Nicola Jones; Eliana Villar Marquez
Date Published
March 2014
12 pages
This article examines whether the features of Peru's Juntos (Together) program-which provides cash to poor caregivers conditioned on the adoption of improved child-care behaviors - have been successful in not only improving the use of education and health services for children, but also in providing protection from violence, neglect, and exclusion.
Although Juntos focuses on countering the drivers of violence and social exclusion, this analysis suggests that children living in poverty in the highlands of Peru remain highly vulnerable to the effects of violence exploitation, neglect, and social exclusion. In order to address this program weakness, this article recommends five programmatic changes. First, track data on children's protection and care. Such data are needed in order to determine whether the program assists in minimizing children's experiences of intra-household, school-based, and community-based violence. Data should be obtained on parental supervision and stimulation, children's involvement in paid and unpaid work, and access to specialized services for children with special needs. Second, provide opportunities for dialog between program managers and beneficiary families and children, so as to improve monitoring and evaluation. Third, strengthen linkages between Juntos staff and the agency charged with children's protection. Such cooperation should facilitate the development of an early warning system that includes guidelines for identifying signs of abuse and neglect. Fourth, reintroduce home visits. Home visits provide opportunities for community facilitators to tailor support to individual beneficiary households and identify children who are experiencing or are at risk for abuse, neglect, or violence. Fifth, make the most of education/awareness-raising sessions between program beneficiaries and those responsible for implementing the program. Interaction between those who deliver program services and beneficiaries provides opportunities to raise awareness about people's rights and entitlements, as well as facilitate referrals and access to needed services. 8 listings for further reading