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With IDB support, Argentina improves child and youth development policies

A $10 million to strengthen the National Secretariat for Children, Youth and Family

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved a $10 million loan to Argentina for a program to strengthen the government’s policies for children, youth and families. The Argentine government will contribute the equivalent of $18 million to the program.

The program seeks to establish conditions to increase the quantity and quality of public spending on early childhood development programs and life skills for young people. These programs can help close gaps in cognitive development among children of different socio-economic strata.

"Skills developed during the first years of life largely determine future academic achievement, social behavior, and earnings," said the IDB’s project team leader, social protection lead specialist Mario Alberto Sánchez. "Deficits accumulated in childhood can be remedied to some extent during adolescence if youths can develop in nurturing families and communities."

The program, which will be implemented by the Ministry of Social Development, will strengthen the National Secretariat for Children, Youth and Family (SENNAF) as the governing body for such policies in a country where many participants are involved in these sectors, including provincial and municipal governments and non-governmental organizations.

The program will support the development of a National Registry of Child Facilities to identify child development centers established a decade ago in response to a severe economic crisis. SENNAF has identified about 2,000 of these centers, which have varying degrees of standards and provide different services. However, their total number could be several times higher.

The program will help SENNAF devise quality standards, child development indicators, and innovative projects to strengthen child centers and help them improve their services.

The program will also train teams that make up SENNAF’s regional network to improve their ability to support improvements in child development centers. New analytical tools will leverage data generated by SENNAF and its provincial counterparts and develop a territorial information system to formulate more effective policies.

The program will also fund innovative programs in child and youth development based on lessons learned and best practices from previous experiences. It will hold an international workshop on design and evaluation of programs to create conditions conducive to family and community development of children and adolescents.

The loan is for 15 years, with a grace period of three years and a variable interest rate based on LIBOR.