|Written by Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews|
|Thursday, 29 March 2007 00 58 12|
| GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) — Homeless street children now have their own place in the growing metropolis following the completion of an P8.3 million drop-in and social development training facility right at the heart of the city.
Rebecca Magante, City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) chief, said the city government opened the new two-storey Social Development Center on Monday to provide temporary shelter for street children and those who are in need of special interventions.
The construction of the facility, which is located beside the CSWDO compound, was jointly funded by the city government and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).
The AusAID assistance was part of a program implemented by the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Magante said the center, which will be managed by the CSWDO, will mainly serve as a processing and drop-in place for street children and other children in especially difficult circumstances.
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific said "children are in especially difficult circumstances whentheir basic needs for food, shelter, education, medical care, or protection and security are not met."
She said it will also be utilized as a venue for training and assemblies for social development workers and other social service clientele and sectors.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development noted that children under such condition are those who were abandoned, neglected, sexually abused, victims of acts of lasciviousness, sexually exploited, victims of pornography, physically abused, youth offenders, child laborers and victims of armed conflicts.
The city government earlier raised alarm over the growing number of street children, also called "batang tun-og," who were allegedly involved in street crimes and prostitution activities.
The local police and social workers have been conducting regular rounds in various parts of the city to monitor these activities.
Magante said the city government has assigned highly-trained social workers and counselors to lead the operations of the facility.
"We will offer counseling sessions and other related interventions to those who may need them at the center," she said.
Mayor Pedro Acharon Jr. said the establishment of the center is part of the city government’s investments for the "future of our children."
"This is in line with our vision to build a peaceful community through the teaching of proper values to our children," he said.
Acharon committed to provide additional resources to further improve the facility and the city’s various social development initiatives, especially those that cater to the welfare of the children.(Allen V. Estabillo/MIndaNews)