The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is encouraging the public to provide responsible types of assistance to street dwellers and Indigenous Peoples (IPs) so that they are safe from streets hazards, especially during this holiday season.

While the DSWD understands the willingness to help the needy, especially during this season, assistance however should consider how street children and IPs are kept away from health and safety risks.  These assistance include organizing gift-giving activities, feeding sessions, or medical missions at activity centers in the local government units (LGUs) that conform with the health and safety protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) such as maintaining social distancing, wearing of face masks and face shields, and washing of hands at all times.

The DSWD reiterates that giving tokens on the streets will lure street children and IPs to further roam the streets that exposes them to various health and safety hazards.

The DSWD has a hotline number where the public can report sightings of street children and individuals at-risk on the streets.  Concerned citizens may contact the Crisis Intervention Unit of DSWD Field Office National Capital Region (FO-NCR) at 8735-5413.

DSWD further stresses that through its Field Offices, in cooperation with LGUs, it operates and manages community-based and child-friendly spaces or activity centers where street children can play, learn, eat, bathe, and socialize as they are monitored and cared for by social workers and volunteers.  

This is part of the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, Street Families, and Indigenous Peoples especially Sama-Bajaus, which features an integrated approach in responding to the needs of the street children and their families, including the Sama-Bajau members. It also aims to contribute to the reduction of their vulnerabilities and mendicant activities.

The DSWD also implements the Modified Conditional Cash Transfer for Homeless Street Families (MCCT-HSF), an expansion of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), which specifically caters to homeless families living on the streets.  Benefits under the MCCT-HSF include education and health grants; access to social services; economic opportunities; and rent subsidy for a period of six to 12 months or depending on the capability of the household-beneficiaries to improve their living conditions. 

In 2019, DSWD-NCR rescued 14 IPs who were brought back to Capas, Tarlac. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 street families were served under the Comprehensive Program for Street Children, Street Families, and Indigenous Peoples especially Sama-Bajau also in 2019.  Some 2,000 street families have also been served under the same program as of September this year.

DSWD emphasizes that a multi-stakeholder effort remains vital in addressing the concerns of street dwellers and homeless families. ###