Over 1M abandoned, neglected kids need a caring home

Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing to synchronize the country’s different adoption laws to hasten the process of finding a ‘second home’ for abandoned and neglected children across the country.

Cayetano delivered a privilege speech on Wednesday (February 26) to urge her fellow senators to support her bill, the Alternative Child Care Act (SBN 61). Her speech also coincided with the commemoration of February as Adoption Consciousness Month.

Citing a report from the United Nations’ Children’s Right and Emergency Relief Organization (UNICEF), Cayetano said about 1.8 million Filipino children remain abandoned or neglected for various reasons, including extreme poverty, domestic problems, natural disasters, armed conflicts, and other issues.

Meanwhile, the senator cited data from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) showing that only around 2,191 children in the country have been placed for domestic adoption between 2010 and 2018.

“In eight years, [that’s] less than 300 children we are placing for adoption [yearly],” she pointed out.

“It is my personal conviction that we consider the state of each of these [abandoned and neglected] children,” added Cayetano, herself a foster parent and eventual adoptive mother to her 8-year-old son, Rene Lucas.

SBN 61 seeks to codify the country’s different laws on alternative child care and further improve the country’s foster care programs, such that out-of-home care provided by residential facilities shall only be a last resort for abandoned and neglected children.

The bill also makes domestic adoption administrative in nature in order to streamline its procedures and make formal adoption more accessible to families who are willing and qualified to adopt a child.

“The Constitution states that, ‘the State shall defend the right of children to assistance, including proper care and nutrition, and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse, cruelty, exploitation, and other conditions prejudicial to their development,’” Cayetano cited in her privilege speech.

“I leave all of you with that visual of 1.8 million Filipino children without families who will care for and love them – not a mother or father to read them a bedtime story, to tuck them in, to even ensure that they come home when the sun goes down,” she added

“This is the objective of improving our law, so that we can expedite our [adoption and foster care] procedures, and we can place these children [under foster or adoptive families] faster so that they can have the home that they deserve,” the senator concluded. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano delivers a privilege speech at the Senate in commemoration of February as ‘Adoption Consciousness Month.’ (February 26, 2020)
In this file photo, then House Deputy Speaker Pia S. Cayetano stands witness to the christening of three babies under the care of Taguig Lingap Center, the city’s shelter for children at risk.

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