A FIRST-term lawmaker is pushing for the establishment of crisis centers for street children in all regions throughout the country.

Representative Pedro Acharon Jr. (first district, South Cotabato) filed House Bill 41 to be known as "Street Children Crisis Center Act of 2010", which will provide street children with emergency medical and feeding, temporary shelter, basic education, legal and counsel services, among others.

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The measure covers all persons below 18 years of age roaming in the streets without the supervision of adults, whether parents, relatives, and friends.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is mandated to formulate the criteria for the selection and qualification of street children who shall be covered by this measure.

It also provides training for crisis center workers, counselors and other volunteers; and protect and assist abused, neglected or exploited children and secure proper government assistance.

Citing the Bureau of Women and Young Workers surveys as reported by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Acharon said there are at least nine million child laborers and approximately 75,000 street children nationwide.

“The increasing poverty in the nation's urban centers is causing a corresponding rise in the number of street children," said Acharon.

Under the measure, the DSWD shall develop a comprehensive program, in coordination with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to protect street children.

The DSWD-National Capital Region (NCR) office last July provided educational assistance worth P2,000 to some 500 street kids for their school expenses as part of its efforts to keep children off the streets.

The agency is currently implementing the Sagip-Kalinga project, which aims to prevent the influx of street dwellers by providing community-based support services. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)