Urgent Need to Address Children’s Needs in Puerto Rico during the Hurricane Maria Recovery Process

The Youth Development Institute’s analysis presents specific recommendations for various sectors.

The executive director of the Youth Development Institute (YDI), Amanda Rivera Flores, called for the coordination of efforts within various sectors to address the urgent needs of children during the Hurricane Maria recovery efforts ; taking into account that even before the hurricane, 100,230 children were in danger of falling below the poverty line. “This is the first step in YDI’s initiative to promote a public dialogue about possible scenarios that children and youth face in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, and to promote recommendations to start addressing this situation”. Rivera Flores mentioned that according to previous studies on the impact of other natural disasters and, based on the analysis of Census data on the condition of children on the island before the hurricane, the situation of children in Puerto Rico could worsen, which will have a negative effect on the economic development of the island.

“Hurricane Maria threatens to worsen an already critical situation by increasing child poverty levels, accelerating the migration of families with children, and increasing mental health problems. These factors have a negative effect on children’s academic progress, which in turn cut short the opportunities children and youth have to contribute to Puerto Rico’s economic development when they become adults”, explained the YDI’s director, while pointing out that the island must prioritize children as a key population for the its recovery.

Rivera Flores’s comments were part of the presentation of a study: “The Impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico’s Children: Analysis and Initial Recommendations”, which provides specific measures for the philanthropic sector, the governmental sector at both the local and commonwealth level, and the Financial Oversight and Management Board. “The future of Puerto Rico will depend on creating opportunities for children to have access to their full development”, stated Rivera Flores while presenting recommendations for actions that different sectors could take to address the socio-economic emergency:

  • Philanthropic Sector:
    • Invest in programs that would improve the economic security, mental health services and research focused on public policy efforts and advocacy for the benefit of Puerto Rico’s children
  • Government of Puerto Rico (Executive and Legislative branches):
    • 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:
    • Protect investments in children and promote the importance of keeping families with children in the island, as measures to promote fiscal health
  • Federal Government:
    • Extending the Child Tax Credit to families with one or two children in Puerto Rico
    • Increasing the Workforce Development Fund for Reconstruction through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) to promote temporary and subsidized employment opportunities geared towards young people

    “Addressing the problems of children and their families is essential for the economic development of Puerto Rico. Working together to decrease child poverty will represent less expenditure for the government, so our message is to urgently address the needs of children and youth in the island,” said Rivera Flores.

    The report titled “The Impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico’s Children: Analysis and Initial Recommendations” will be available after December 20, 2017 in our online library at www.juventudpr.org and can be accessed here. If you would like to get involved in the YDI’s public policy and advocacy efforts for the reduction of child poverty, please send an email to info@juventudpr.org.

    About the Youth Development Institute

    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 the collection and dissemination of data; development of research-driven public policy recommendations; and advocacy work that is driven by both data and people. We are the only organization focused on policy and advocacy around children’s issues in Puerto Rico. For more information please visit us at our website www.juventudpr.org , call 787-728-3939 or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/idj.pr on www.twiter.com/idj_pr  or using the hashtag: #JuventudPrimero