This is the fifth of a five-post blog series. Part 1 introduced our USAID-funded “Protection and Quality of Care for Children Project” and Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 described its three principal components. This post will serve to put it all into a wider context.

While the Protection and Quality of Care for Children Project was not timed or designed to respond directly to the ongoing migration crisis that became BREAKING NEWS in mid-2018 with the separations of children from their parents, the project’s focus on child protection, quality caregiving, and early childhood development does help ameliorate root causes of the crisis — violence and poverty — and it helps respond to consequences of the crisis — child separation and family dislocation.

For example, as described in the previous posts, the project will use an evidence-based approach to prevent children from becoming victims of violence — or perpetrators of it — by strengthening:

  • the child protection and social service workforce;
  • case management, so more children are placed in safer care settings;
  • the system for monitoring children’s well-being;
  • the care system’s capacity to respond to reported cases of violence, abuse, and neglect; and
  • the capacity of caregivers and parents to practice positive parenting and relationship-centered care that builds children’s socio-emotional health and resilience.

The project will generate policy and technical recommendations based on concrete experiences of children and youth within El Salvador’s child protection system and incorporating proven best practices in other countries and institutional settings.

This system and capacity strengthening will also help the government continue and improve its efforts to reunify, and support migrant children and youth returning to El Salvador due to deportation or the dangers and difficulties of migration.

The project will also help prevent family breakdown by expanding access to quality early childhood education and daycare that enables vulnerable families, including women-headed households, to earn income and break the cycle of poverty that drives irregular migration.

For the next five years, we’ll be talking about this program in these pages. We hope you’ll keep reading as we conduct this program, assess its impact, and hopefully demonstrate the potential of these ideas for making a real, lasting, and meaningful impact on the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children — benefits that reach across Salvadoran society and indeed help ensure a more peaceful and secure American continent for us all.