Senator Win Gatchalian sought the creation and filling of more plantilla positions under the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Council to ensure the effective implementation of ECCD programs in the country.
To date, there are only 15 plantilla positions under the ECCD Council. Gatchalian pointed out that the limited number of plantilla positions prevents the body from effectively engaging local government units (LGUs) in the implementation of ECCD programs.
Under Republic Act No. 10410 or the Early Years Act of 2013, the ECCD Council is mandated to implement the National ECCD System, which covers the full range of health, nutrition, early education, and social services development programs for the basic holistic needs of children until the age of four.
In a Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed budget of the Department of Education (DepEd) and its attached agencies, the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Basic Education pressed the need for the ECCD Council to have enough manpower in fulfilling its mandate.
“We need to increase plantilla positions so we can engage local government units faster. Without the manpower, we cannot mobilize our local government units to strengthen ECCD in the country, to achieve universal coverage, and to produce high-quality child development teachers and workers,” said Gatchalian, noting that the delivery of ECCD programs is a function devolved to LGUs.
Gatchalian also proposed to reallocate some of the ECCD Council’s funds for the creation of plantilla positions. He said that while the construction of National Child Development Centers (NCDCs) is not a mandate of the ECCD Council under the Early Years Act (Republic Act No. 10410), the National Expenditure Program 2024 allocates P170 million under the ECCD Council’s Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE). The senator suggested using some of these funds to create plantilla positions for the ECCD Council.
The ECCD Council’s functions also include the development of a national system for early identification, screening, and surveillance of young children aged zero to four.
Gatchalian previously filed the Basic Education and Early Childhood Education Alignment Act (Senate Bill No. 2029) to strengthen ECCD in the country. The proposed measure seeks to align the basic education curriculum and the ECCD curriculum. It also mandates greater responsibilities on LGUs on the implementation of ECCD programs, including the provision of facilities and resources.