Pia seeks a loving, caring home for all abandoned, neglected kids

Senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed a measure to codify the country’s laws on alternative child care with the goal of simplifying the process of giving abandoned and neglected children a second chance at having a loving and caring family.

Senate Bill No. 61 or the ‘Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines’ was among the first ten priority bills that the returning senator filed during her first week in the Senate as part of her long-term advocacy to promote children’s rights and welfare. 

Citing a report by the United Nations’ Children’s Right and Emergency Relief Organization, Cayetano said about 1.8 million Filipino children are abandoned or neglected due to several reasons, including extreme poverty, natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other problems at home.

“These children are usually placed under institutional care through state-run or accredited residential care facilities, while others end up on the streets,” according to Cayetano, herself a foster parent and eventual adoptive mom to her 8-year-old son, Rene Lucas. 

“Sadly, there are not enough institutions to attend to their needs, not to mention the fact that these institutions cannot give the warmth and affection only a family could provide,” she lamented. 

Cayetano’s bill seeks to address the issue by streamlining government policies on alternative child care, such that the out-of-home care provided by residential care facilities shall only be a last resort for the children. 

“[T]he State shall ensure that a child without parental care or at risk of losing it are provided with alternative care options such as foster care, kinship care, kafalah (Islamic provision of alternative care), guardianship, or residential care, including family-like care,” the measure read.

SBN 61 likewise makes adoption administrative in nature to effectively streamline its procedures and make formal adoption accessible.

Furthermore, the bill calls for the establishment of a one-stop agency to improve and expedite the process of all modes of alternative child care. The National Authority for Child Care (NACC) shall be an attached agency of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), tasked to formulate and develop policies on pre-adoption, adoption, inter-country adoption, foster care, guardianship leading to adoption, and other alternative child care policies.

This includes programs that will protect the Filipino child from abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and any adoption practice that is harmful, detrimental and prejudicial to his/her best interests.

The NACC shall also be in charge of conducting advocacy campaigns on alternative child care, in cooperation with various national government agencies, non-government organizations, peoples’ organizations, faith based organizations, and civil society.

Moreover, Cayetano’s bill seeks to make Foster Care a mandatory and permanent program of the NACC. The agency shall be tasked to develop programs that will ensure the awareness and responsiveness of local government officials in the promotion of the foster care system in every city, municipality, or barangay.

The institutionalization of foster care in the country as a preferred way of caring for abused, abandoned, or neglected children is mandated by Republic Act 10165 or the Foster Care Act of 2012, of which Cayetano was the principal author and sponsor.

“We really need to see more modes of alternative child care working in our communities, as these are proven to be more beneficial than institutional care, in that it provides children with the love and attention that can only be found in a family setting,” Cayetano said, drawing from her own experience as a foster parent and adoptive mom. #

Senator Pia Cayetano leads dedication rites for abandoned and neglected children in Taguig City during an orientation program for prospective foster families.

Pia files first 10 bills in support of PH development goals

Returning senator Pia S. Cayetano has filed her first 10 bills in the Senate with the aim of fulfilling her campaign promise to champion legislation that will help achieve the country’s development goals. 

Her proposed measures, Cayetano stressed, are anchored on the government’s Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) Member-States, including the Philippines, in 2015.

The PDP 2017-2022 is the first medium-term plan launched by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the Duterte administration, leading to a vision known as “AmBisyon Natin 2040,” where Filipino families are seen to enjoy a “strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life” in 25 years.

The SDGs, meanwhile, are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly, with strategies geared towards improving health and education, reducing inequality, spurring economic growth, and addressing climate change.
In line with these goals, Cayetano filed her first batch of bills in the Senate and plans to file more measures in the coming weeks to address challenges hindering sustainable and inclusive growth for the country. 

Furthermore, she vowed to continue focusing on her long-time advocacies as a legislator, including education, health, women and family welfare, and sustainable communities.

Among Cayetano’s priority measures are:

1. Alternative Child Care Code of the Philippines 

2. Educational Roadmap Act 

3. Priority Health Infrastructure Act (Build, Build, Build for Health)

4. Priority Infrastructure for Public Higher Education Institutions Act (Build, Build, Build for Education)

5. Sustainable Cities and Communities Act

6. Sustainable Transportation Act

7. Act Recognizing the Foreign Decree of Termination of Marriage

8. Amendments to the Family Code of the Philippines (to ensure the equality of men and women under the laws of marriage and family relations) 

9. Inclusive Education for Children and Youth with Special Needs Act

10. Act Providing for Additional Support and Compensation for Educators in Basic Education (Teachers salary increase)

“We already have a set of goals that we envision for future generations of Filipinos. What we need is a comprehensive action plan to ensure that our goals will be met,” Cayetano said.

“For my part, I will continue what I started since my first term as a legislator and push for more laws to empower Filipinos through education, proper healthcare services, children and family welfare policies, and sustainable development,” the senator concluded.#

Pia’s birthday wish: More families opening homes to foster care

Taguig Representative and senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano on Friday led the launching of Taguig City’s Foster Care Orientation and Recruitment program, which seeks to encourage foster parenting among more Filipino families. 

The institutionalization of foster care in the country as a preferred way of caring for abused, abandoned, or neglected children is mandated by Republic Act 10165 or the Foster Care Act of 2012. 

The principal author and sponsor of the measure, Cayetano said she drew her inspiration from her own experience in fostering and eventually adopting her son, Rene Lucas Cayetano. 
“Ang wish ko ay mapalaki ang lahat ng bata sa uri ng pamilyang kinalakihan ko – a family full of love, where the parents have a sense of responsibility to prepare their children for a better future” the congresswoman said. 

Cayetano lauded the Taguig city government, under the leadership of Mayor Lani Cayetano, for serving as a model-city in promoting the importance of foster care through its orientation and recruitment program for foster parents.

“I worked on the Foster Care Act for quite some time until it became a law. We really need to see it working in our local government units,” she said. 
RA 10165 stresses that in most cases, foster care is more beneficial than institutional care, in that it provides children with the proper attention and love that only families can give. 

For her part, the congresswoman stressed that there is a need to encourage more Filipinos to consider being foster families to neglected or abandoned children, and to subsequently train them on child care and development. 

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), about 1.8 million Filipino children are abandoned or neglected due to several reasons, including extreme poverty, natural disasters, and armed conflicts. 

On the other hand, the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) 2017 annual report showed that only 5,819 children were placed in residential care facilities run by the agency. The rest were either placed under institutional care or ended up on the streets.
Apart from the launching of the orientation and recruitment program, Cayetano also witnessed the christening of three babies residing at the Taguig Lingap Center, the city’s temporary shelter for children at risk and the elderly. 

Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano watches from the audience as former representative Lino Cayetano addresses city social welfare workers, volunteers and parents.
Taguig Mayor City Lani Cayetano recounts the programs of the local government to support families and help children at risk.