Care Economies in Context

Research Findings

Country Profile: Care Economy in Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, like other countries in Latin America, care is traditionally family-oriented, with a recent incorporation of public care policies aimed at specific populations.

Three policy developments are worth noting. In 2014, the government created a National Childcare and Development Network (REDCUDI) that seeks to systematize and expand child care services across the country. In the case of the older adult population, in 2021 the National Care Policy 2021-2031 was approved through executive decree and aims to support people whose lives are characterized by dependency in gaining and strengthening their autonomy.

Third, the National System of Care and Support for Adults and Older Persons in a Situation of Dependency (SINCA) was created in 2022. It aims to establish a progressive system that provides services for care-dependent people and care-providers, optimizing public and private services already existing in the country.

Aside from these recent policies developments however, Costa Rican families continue to be the ones who mainly take care of girls, boys, adolescents, the disabled population, and older adults.

Towards the end of the 20th century and during the first two decades of this century, public policies and legislation were created in Costa Rica with a universalist formulation – a system where the public has universal access to services – and the consolidation of a care system that articulated and expanded services that were already in execution.

Paradoxically, the accelerated rate of state transformations trying to enact universalist social policy has limited care services to people living in poverty. This is partly due to the financing structure defined for these services, and it effectively delimits coverage of care programs to a low proportion of the population, in contrast to a universalist approach.

Costa Rica is currently experiencing a complex scenario, where the government uses the argument of a fiscal crisis for non-compliance with the legally established commitments for the financing of care policies, or the reform of regulations that delimit the scope of current social services.

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