Focus on: Ángeles Castro, Executive Director of Infancia Primero

April 20, 2018
Communications Colunga Foundation

"We can not pretend to be a better country if we do not take care of our childhood"

We talked with the Executive Director of Childhood First about the situation of children and adolescents in Chile, and the origins of their social vocation.

How did you get to the world of civil society?

I have a long history. I think that the first activity of social action that I did in school was when I was in fifth grade and then I entered the CLC (Communities of Christian Life), where I started my volunteering from the second half. From there I never stopped again.

When I entered working life as a Párvulos Educator, I worked in a private garden. Then I went to a school in Puente Alto and as something of the destination, as a wonderful gift, I was presented with the opportunity to go to work at Juguemos con Nuestros Hijos in La Pintana, which was a place I had known since the time when I volunteered. It was like a dream because I always wanted to work with children in early childhood but also with families and be able to make an intervention that made more sense, because in formal education it is difficult to work with families. I came to this world but I think I looked for it.

What does it mean for you to be in ColungaHUB?

We arrived here before there was ColungaHUB itself, we arrived in 2014 when we had an alliance with Colunga and when the HUB was in the oven, in the process of gestation. We started working in 2006 in our field programs, but we formed the foundation in 2014.

I think that being here at ColungaHUB is an incredible wealth for organizations, from the point of view of collaboration, to be able to count on one another. We have a group with the directors of the foundations and whenever there is an achievement they share it and we are all happy. That makes you feel that we are part of something else, that we are all building and paddling for the same side.

What are the challenges that we have as a society regarding children?

In global terms there is an urgency to really commit to the rights of the child, which is no longer a declaration. In Chile we joined in the 90s and we are today and nothing concrete remains. The situation of childhood is serious, it has been represented by the Sename scandals, but the struggle has to do with guaranteeing these rights, we can not claim a better country if we do not take care of our childhood.

Today we have a large number of children damaged, and I do not mean just those who are institutionalized, there are many children alone, with parents with long working days, therefore there are very few instances to relate. I believe that public policies should advance in the protection of children and the family, so that we can dream of generating changes.

In general, childhood arises from a response to urgency, but always focused on children who are institutionalized, who are actually the most damaged, most exposed, but they are a percentage of the number of children in Chile. There is a mountain of evidence accumulated with the most efficient actions and what is to be done, but suddenly the norm that is dictated by the central government does not allow the teams to make decisions, given that Chile has such different realities. For example, what a team in Arica, Putre or Puerto Williams can do is impossible to be the same. On the other hand, it has been seen that the area of promotion and protection of the family is clearly the biggest cost-effective investment, which has the greatest impact, so I believe that decisions do not go through knowing what to do, the point is that you have to invest.

What projects does Infancia Primero have now?

Today we continue working on our programs, the Let's play with our children that works in La Pintana and Puente Alto and has continued having a successful intervention, we are deepening in the home visits, and our idea is to continue replicating the program Grow Playing. The pilot we did in our alliance with Colunga is over, but the municipalities of Colina and El Bosque decided to maintain the program, which for us was very relevant. Now we start in Renca and our idea is to continue in other communes.

We are also going to do a project with the Protectora de la Infancia where we will develop the work with the direct treatment educators in terms of how they relate to and relate to the children, and how the visits of the family of the children that take place are made. They are institutionalized. In addition, we are considering the possibility of doing work in rural sectors. We are very motivated and with our heart set on interventions.

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