Brasilia, October 5, 2016 – The Brazilian government launched today the Happy Child Program (Programa Criança Feliz), an initiative supported by Congress, international institutions and the Brazilian civil society. It aims to promote children’s full development during early childhood through actions coordinated by the Ministry of Social and Agrarian Development (MDSA), responsible for managing the Unified Registry and the Bolsa Familia Program (BFP).

In the first stage, the program will focus on children between 0 and 3 years of age in low-income families or in vulnerable situations who already participate in income transfer programs such as Bolsa Familia and the Continuous Cash Benefit (BPC), especially those with neurological disorders caused by Zika virus. Then, the government plans to extend coverage to all Brazilian children.
The Happy Child Program will be carried out in a partnership with ministries of four different sectors: Health, Education, Culture and Justice. The aim is to conduct weekly home visits to beneficiary families in order to identify opportunities and risks for child development.
Sergio Amaral/MDS

Sergio Amaral/MDS

The new program will also draw inspiration from international good practices seen in Cuba, Chile, United States and England, as well as local experiences in Brazil. In that sense, in 2016, the program will support existing early childhood programs in 95 municipalities and nine Brazilian states: Acre, Alagoas, Amazonas, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Paraná, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo. The program’s actions will be undertaken in a decentralized and integrated manner.
Legal Framework – For the minister of Social Development, Osmar Terra, the program materializes the contents of Law 13,247/2016 known as the Legal Framework for Early Childhood. “The Legal Framework was approved in record time by both Congress Houses, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, which is very unusual and proves that this is a non-partisan issue for Brazil”, said the minister.
According to, Cristina Albuquerque, Child Development coordinator for the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), “the Legal Framework is a major breakthrough for children’s rights policies. Happy Child, aimed at those in vulnerable situations, is another milestone for the policy that is being built and strengthened in the country”.
Also, according to minister Terra, the program will reinforce BFP’s impact on breaking the intergenerational poverty cycle. “The first thousand days are crucial”, he said. “Children do not learn only at school. Their performance will vary according to the input received in their first thousand days of life, which will impact their education, social relations and the capacity of getting better paid jobs”, he concluded.
For president Michel Temer, BFP should be maintained and supported. According to the president, the government grant increase (which rose 12.5% in July, 2016) and its integration with the new program are aimed at strengthening the country’s social protection network.