United Voices to Protect Budget Investments Aimed at Children and Their Families

United Voices to Protect Budget Investments Aimed at Children and Their Families

The social and economic development of children in Puerto Rico, especially those living below the poverty threshold, has been disrupted during the last four years by the significant cuts to the budget allocated to programs in Social Development (51% less), Education (22% less) and Financial Self-Sufficiency (13% less), which limits the avenues available children and their families for exiting poverty and attaining full development. This conclusion was reached in the public policy report titled “Children’s Budget 2018”, which was published by the Youth Development Institute (YDI).

“During the following years, Puerto Rico will need to continue making difficult decisions regarding budget cuts. That is why it is essential for the YDI to evaluate the budget trends in areas focused on the well-being of children and youth,” said Amanda Rivera Flores, Executive Director of the YDI. More than half of the island’s children, 56% of them, live below the poverty threshold. Therefore, they are one of the most vulnerable populations in Puerto Rico, but also a critical population for the island’s economic development,” said Rivera Flores, while adding that the opportunities offered to children today will determine their ability to contribute to the society and the economy.

The study is based on a detailed report of a budget analysis made by the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey and led by Dr. José Caraballo Cueto titled “Análisis Presupuestario de las Agencias Gubernamentales de Puerto Rico que Ofrecen Servicios a Niños” (Budget Analysis of the Government Agencies of Puerto Rico Offering Services to Children). “Through this study, we try to specify the budget categories where budget cuts have been recommended. That is why we have analyzed budget changes through the last four fiscal years. We have also offered an analysis by subject, according to the types of services offered by program,” said Dr. Caraballo Cueto, an economist./p>

The report covers the last four fiscal years and analyzed 42 government programs that were divided into ten categories by subject:

  • Health
  • Mental Health
  • K-12 Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Financial Assistance
  • Financial Self-Sufficiency
  • Child Welfare
  • Security
  • Juvenile Justice

The data from the study shows that between 2014 and 2018 there was a 4% cut to the 42 assessed programs which have an impact on children and their families. The main cuts took place in:

  • 51% Social Development:
    • Ensuring sufficient funds are available to assign social workers and psychologists to every school
    • Creating a working group to address the migration crisis among families with children
    • Reinstating the local earned income tax credit
  • Financial Oversight and Management Board:
    • 100% Puerto Rican Athaneum (Ateneo Puertorriqueño)
    • 69% Cultural and Arts Promotion by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueño
    • 54% Sports Promotion and Development (Sports and Recreation Department)
  • 22% Education:
    • Projected investment of $6,482 per student while in the United States it is almost $12,000
  • 13% Self-Sufficiency:
    • Elimination of the Employment Opportunities for Youth Program
    • 57% Technical and Professional Education
    • 22% Employment Opportunities for the Unemployed
    • 13% Child Care Program

    Meanwhile, there were increases in programs related to:

  • Health:
    • Health Reform – $330 million
    • Health Promotion – $90 million
  • Mental Health:
    • ASSMCA – $25 million
  • Early Childhood:
    • Head Start and Early Head Start – $40 million

    More than 50 community and non-profit organizations that address the needs of children and youth in Puerto Rico participated in the study’s presentation. “The YDI places great importance in promoting collaboration with youth-focused organizations and interested citizens, and in encouraging them to join our advocacy efforts to promote investments in children. We hope the Children’s Budget will be an advocacy tool in the budget process,” said the Executive Director.

    Aside from non-profit organizations, this report is aimed at youth and their families, so that they may have access to this data and can be empowered and advocate for their own interests. The report is also aimed at public policymakers, with the goal of fostering informed decisions that do not compromise Puerto Rico’s long-term economic development.

    If you would like to know more about the YDI’s public policy efforts to reduce poverty and join our efforts, visit www.juventudpr.org or our page on www.facebook.com/idj.pr, or e-mail us at info@juventudpr.org.

    About the Youth Development Institute (YDI)

    The Youth Development Institute (YDI) is a non-profit organization working to advance public policies at both the commonwealth and federal level that will improve the lives and development of children in Puerto Rico. Our work includes research, collection and dissemination of data, public policy recommendations and advocacy efforts based on data as well as the voices of Puerto Rico’s youth and their families.