Integrating Child Poverty into Puerto Rico’s Recovery Plans

The Youth Development Institute (YDI), in its interest to position children and youth as an essential factor in the economic development of the island, and with the goal of including the issue of child poverty in the development of plans for Puerto Rico’s recovery, offered public policy recommendations that were received in several proposals of great impact to our Island.

On the one hand, Puerto Rico’s Department of Housing incorporated into its Disaster Recovery Action Plan the issues of child poverty and child wellbeing. You can access the report HERE. The data and information provided by the YDI can be found on pages 40-43. This plan is highly relevant, as it provides a general strategy of investment priorities for the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). In addition to what was included in the report, the YDI provided more detailed and concrete recommendations on how to use CDBG-DR funds to reduce child poverty, prioritize children’s well-being, and increase parental involvement in the workforce.

On the other hand, Amanda Rivera, Executive Director of YDI, collaborated as part of the Economic Development working group of the Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission. The Commission’s purpose was to prepare public policy recommendations that would increase Puerto Rico’s resilience, improve its existing capacities and employment opportunities, and reduce inequalities.

Among the recommendations suggested by the YDJ and incorporated into the report is the A8 recommendation: “Support social services programs aimed at reducing family and child poverty, in order to ensure the preparation of the future workforce.” This measure recognizes that Puerto Rico is fighting against a constant level of child poverty in which more than 50% of children live below poverty levels and promotes that, as a first step, the Government of Puerto Rico must create a Commission on Child Poverty, with the goal of reducing child poverty at the Island and municipality levels through accountability based on results

In addition, the measure presented by the YDJ, promotes the establishment of specialized programs to help single mothers find employment or establish microenterprises or small businesses that would allow them to overcome poverty. These programs would consider initiatives such as providing food aid for families, professional and business mentoring, and individualized case management.

It also presents the need for workforce creation programs that would allow adults participating in social welfare programs to make the transition to employment. The measure also recommends the creation of a specialized and guaranteed financial aid program with a duration of 12 to 24 months to help single mothers with children who are starting a microenterprise or a small business. We invite you to read the full report HERE.

These recommendations validate the YDI’s position that investing now in addressing the child poverty crisis on the Island is an essential component in its economic development strategies. For this reason, we will continue to collaborate with various groups and recognize the importance of continued and joint efforts for the benefit of our Puerto Rico’s children and youth.