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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor announces start of Child-Friendly Cities project in Puerto Rico

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia, Family Secretary Ciení Rodríguez Troche and Roberto Carlos Pagán, head of the Administration for the Comprehensive Care and Development of Children (ACUDEN by its Spanish acronym), announced on Monday the 20 municipalities that will initially participate in the Child-Friendly Cities in Puerto Rico (CAN) project, with the objective of developing and strengthening the ecosystem of services for children.

Selected municipalities that met the eligibility requirements will go through a training, support and mentoring process to be certified as CAN towns. For the implementation of the initiative, over $3.3 million in funds from the ACUDEN-managed Child Care Program were allocated.

“Today we announce another great step of coordination and unity of purpose with our municipalities to continue fulfilling our commitment to building a future of success and opportunities for our boys and girls,” the governor said at a press conference in San Juan. “We have developed an initiative called Child-Friendly Cities, in collaboration with Fondos Unidos, in which pioneering municipalities join us to improve the education and quality of life of our children throughout Puerto Rico. These participating municipalities will obtain assistance and resources to promote new initiatives, educational models and public policies for the benefit of minors between the ages of zero and five.”

Pierluisi added that from the total investment in the initiative, “each municipality will be able to receive $167,000 once they receive the CAN certification.”

“These first 20 chosen municipalities were evaluated by the firm Estudios Técnicos and Fondos Unidos based on municipal governance for the benefit of children, quality of life in the town, citizen participation, and socioeconomic indicators, among other components,” the governor added.

The selected municipalities were: Aguadilla, Aguada, Isabela, Lares, Adjuntas, Lajas, Florida, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Morovis, Arecibo, Barranquitas, Aibonito, Salinas, Guayama, Gurabo, Cataño, Canóvanas, Río Grande and Fajardo. The funds will be directed toward the development of a 2 Gen orientation, resource and referral center.

The Family secretary said that “accepting the designation of Child-Friendly City is committing to asserting the rights of our boys and girls, which are covered in Law 138-2019, and which include the right to receive care and protection, opportunities for their full development, and safe spaces to play in, among many others.”

“For this reason, we celebrate that these 20 municipalities, through their municipal executives, have adopted the mission of becoming Child-Friendly Cities,” Rodríguez Troche said. “Our goal is that, eventually, all 78 municipalities can be certified under this initiative.”

The ACUDEN administrator -- who recognized the mayors, ACUDEN staff, Fondos Unidos and Estudios Técnicos for working hard to make the initiative possible -- went over the eligibility criteria that the agency developed together with the organizations.

“In order for a municipality to be certified and selected for a grant, it had to have been identified as a service desert, obtain a score of 75 percent or more in the prequalification and commit to developing and implementing a plan for the well-being of early childhood,” Pagán said. “Nor could they have been participating in the GEN 2 Program subsidy.”

Child Friendly Cities used criteria based on the rights outlined in the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child, which recognizes that childhood is a special and protected stage during which children must be helped to grow, learn, play, develop and thrive with dignity.

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