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New future for children and youths in Ceará

Integrated actions involving families, schools, and communities assist children and youth at risk

In an effort to reduce the poverty and neglect that afflict children and youth from poor households in the Brazilian state of Ceará, the state government is carrying out the Program to Support the Development of Children and Adolescents (PROARES), with financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Operating in 62 of Ceará’s 184 municipalities, the program is benefiting 82,000 people by improving living conditions and promoting the social inclusion of children, adolescents, and youth at risk, as well as their families. The program also seeks to strengthen the management capacity of state and municipal governments, mainly in the social area.

The program is promoting public safety through its support for 16 sports centers, 10 socio-educational electronic networks, four youth service centers, eight Social Assistance Referral Centers, and more than 16 Child Education Centers. Activities offered include classes in music, dance, tutoring, recreation, sports, and art. Health and social assistance services are also provided. The aim of these activities is to ensure the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of children and adolescents.

The program’s first phase represented a total investment of $70 million, of which the IDB financed $42 million. Directly observed results included a drop in the rate of children and adolescents not enrolled in school as well as reduced repetition, malnutrition, and infant mortality rates.

The second stage of PROARES, whose total investment of $96 million includes IDB financing of $45 million, is currently under way. This phase includes the construction, purchase of equipment, and initial training of professionals who will staff the physical infrastructure related to education, welfare, sport, and cultural activities. In addition, two units will provide socio-educational services to youths who have been involved in criminal activities.

In the area of management, the program provides social management training for supervisory staff and state and local technicians as well as for counselors and civil society leaders in selected municipalities; maintenance and training services in the use of a management system; and monitoring and evaluation.

These activities are carried out jointly by the secretaries of Labor and Social Development, Basic Education, Culture and Sport, and Sport and Youth of Ceará.

Civil Society Participation

The active community role is one of the central features of the project. Communities are encouraged to participate in the development of municipal plans for diagnosing risks and needs, and for establishing priorities in the areas of education, health, culture, sports, and social welfare in each beneficiary municipality.

As a means of strengthening civil society, courses are being offered to communities on topics including adolescent sexuality, reproductive health, domestic violence, drugs, and environment. Workshops and seminars on management, budgeting, public policy, and development of diagnostic tools and strategies for participatory planning are being offered to members of municipal councils. These activities are creating the conditions necessary for achieving positive results from program activities.