The El Jicaro neighborhood in Liberia has been waiting for more than a decade for a care center to open for the community’s children. This year, the canton’s municipal government finally plans to fulfill the promise of providing a daily child care service for families in the town and other surrounding areas.
The Municipality of Liberia estimates that at the end of 2021, it will open the first Child Care and Development Center (CECUDI- Centro de Cuido y Desarrollo Infantil) in the canton. This CECUDI would join the nine others that already exist in Guanacaste. They currently take care of 462 boys and girls in Cañas, Tilaran, Abangares, La Cruz, Nicoya and Santa Cruz.
Just like the better known CEN-CINAIs, these centers are one of the alternatives offered by the country’s National Care Network. The main difference is that the municipalities participate in developing and opening a CECUDI, but the goal is the same: they promote child care and development, mainly for children who come from families with limited financial resources.
“The idea is that their children receive a good process of early stimulation, have a better diet and the mothers can have activities, study or work,” explained Luz Cubero, from the Municipality of Liberia’s municipal planning department.
Cubero pointed out that the CECUDI doesn’t require that mothers be working, which can be the case in the CEN-CINAI.
The El Jicaro care center will have room for 75 boys and girls, who will be distributed between three classrooms according to age groups. The center’s goal is to take care of 2 to 6 year-olds from the El Jicaro neighborhood, as well as the neighboring areas of Las Brisas and Corazon de Jesus, said Cubero.
Although the care centers give priority to boys and girls from birth until they turn seven, these centers can include children up to twelve years of age, depending on the budget and the needs of families, the technical secretary of the National Care Network clarified to The Voice.
What is missing for the El Jicaro CECUDI to open its doors? The infrastructure is ready and most of the equipment is ready, but safety equipment and teaching materials still need to be purchased.
The municipality held two bidding processes last year but couldn’t find bidders who met the conditions required for the security equipment. In addition, Cubero said they realized that security cameras and other devices were more expensive than projected. Now they have to make a budget adjustment because they need to include “some items that weren’t taken into account.”
The local government will then open the bidding process once again, possibly at the end of August, to receive offers from people who can take care of installing security cameras and other equipment.
The Municipality of Liberia will use money from its coffers to make up the difference and finally open the care center. The Social Development and Family Allowances Fund (FODESAF- Fondo de Desarrollo Social y Asignaciones Familiares) provided the resources for construction development and for the equipment. So far, it has already cost ¢17.9 million (about $28,600), of which “the municipality is contributing about ¢4 million (about $6,400),” said Cubero.
The municipality’s contribution comes from budgetary surpluses (in other words, the money that was left over after fulfilling its obligations), but they had to receive approval from the Comptroller General of the Republic to use those resources.
“The project is quite behind schedule, since it hasn’t been easy. The whole issue of construction took time,” said Cubero, from municipal planning.
The company that the municipality initially hired to develop the infrastructure for the care center resigned and there was a change in mayor, so between paperwork and delays, the center has taken more than a decade to come to fruition.
Finally, the Ministry of Health has to give its approval for the center to open. Once opened, the municipality can manage it directly or it can accept bids for a third party to provide the service.
The CECUDI in the El Jicaro neighborhood will be administered by Grupo Empresarial Cooperativo de Servicios Educativos (Gecse RL), the company awarded the contract for its administration, which also operates the CECUDI in Abangares.
Network in the Chorotega Region
TheChild Care and Development Network’s services cover 6,336 boys and girls in the Chorotega region, distributed among three units that implement the resources: the Mixed Institute of Social Assistance (IMAS- Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social), CEN-CINAI and the National Children’s Trust (PANI- Patronato Nacional de la Infancia).
Throughout the region, IMAS subsidizes 3,407 boys and girls (53% of the total), distributed among CECUDIs, private centers and community homes. These children are registered with a total of 57 care centers that belong to the Child Care and Development Network (REDCUDI).
|Implementing unit||Number of children|
This is how the 462 boys and girls who go to CECUDIs in the province daily are distributed:
|Name||Canton||Number of children|
|CECUDI Estrellitas Del Mar||La Cruz||
|CECUDI Barrio Irving||La Cruz||
|CECUDI Cuna Chorotega||Nicoya||
|CECUDI San Martin||Nicoya||
|CECUDI Rinconcito Feliz||Santa Cruz||
|CECUDI Manitas a La Obra||Santa Cruz||
How to Receive These Services?
If there is a minor in the family who requires the services provided by the National Care Network, including the CECUDI, the child’s father, mother or legal guardian has to request that the child be included in one of the alternatives provided by the network, according to the IMAS Press department.
It’s important to verify that there is room available in the care alternative selected, as well as that the center has all the necessary permits to operate.
If the family already receives a subsidy from IMAS, they can contact this institution for advice.