The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Investment in Early Childhood – The Cases of Chile, Colombia and the Dominican Republic

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The Covid-19 epidemic that was unleashed towards the end of 2019 led to an unprecedented economic and social crisis for Latin America and the Caribbean, not only because of its magnitude but also because of its reach to all countries in the region. The educational system saw interruptions in its school cycles and academic schedules, in some cases giving rise to forced virtualizations while, at the same time, there was also a need to adapt the system to keep services running. However, inequities increased as a result of the unequal distribution of resources in multiple dimensions for both students and teachers. In addition, family dynamics, the distribution of tasks within the home, and the care of children are also being affected, with numerous consequences for the entire population.

In this context, this report, developed by Javier Curcio and Malena Aprile with the support of the Inter-American Dialogue and the Inter-American Development Bank, aims to analyze the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the central early childhood policies that make up the defined basic benefit packages, identifying their fiscal and budgetary implications in particular. For this purpose, the countries of Chile, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic were selected to form the sample under analysis in the study.

KEY MESSAGES

  • In the area defined as “Social Protection and Inclusion,” the countries have shown significant development in relation to support for family strengthening policies (parental leave, labor regulations to facilitate parenting, regulations to ensure breastfeeding, etc.).
  • In prenatal care as well as vitamin and micronutrient supplementation, the countries show less generalized progress and there are some specific services such as food fortification or cash transfers for pregnant women that are only being implemented in a few cases.
  • Within the 0 to 2 age group, only a few countries provide technical assistance for children with disabilities; timely experiences of early stimulation; growth and development on the part of fathers and mothers; and promotion of parenting care, and development of parenthood within the framework of social protection and inclusion.
  • The crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic had a strong impact on early childhood, affecting family dynamics, complicating the distribution of tasks within the household and the care of children, among others. The countries modified their public policy structure, increasing their responses to the emergency in terms of income protection, strengthening of health systems and others, while neglecting, in some cases, initiatives necessary for the development of people not so directly linked to the direct and indirect impacts generated by the pandemic.
  • Finally, certain benefits for children from 3 to 6 years of age are only developed by some countries and require greater advocacy to contribute to their inclusion in the basic universal packages. These include detection and care for developmental delays and disabilities, care for early experiences, early stimulation, growth and development, prevention of violence, abuse, and neglect, and support for family strengthening policies, through labor regulations to facilitate parenting by families.

The Education Program thanks the Inter-American Development Bank for their generous support in the making of this report.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT HERE:

 

 

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