Chile’s 4-7 Program offers afterschool care within an educational establishment for boys and girls from 6 to 13 years of age while their mothers or caregivers are working, looking for work, taking training courses, or attending formal educational programs. Municipalities initially applied to participate in the program, and SERNAM (Servicio Nacional de la Mujer), which is the governmental body that both coordinates and finances the implementation of the program, selected municipalities based on whether there were other programs in the community, whether there were a large number of children in the eligible age range in municipal schools, and whether the municipality had a relatively high proportion of economically active women compared to the regional average. The selected municipalities had to select the educational establishments in which the program would be implemented from among municipal schools without existing childcare programs for working women. SERNAM’s central authority determined the number of beneficiary children at each institution, which ranged from 50 to 100 depending on local needs, local conditions, expected demand, and other factors. The number of children in the program determined the personnel assigned to it. The program was implemented after school hours, five days a week (Monday to Friday), starting in either March or April of 2012 and ending in December 2012.
In order to assess the quality of the intervention, a process evaluation was carried out in 2012 to gather quantitative and qualitative information about the program’s implementation. From November to December 2012, participating schools received visits during which details about session implementation, children’s attitudes towards the program, staff qualifications, and other topics18 were collected. In 2012, the program was run in 87 schools, with 6,750 vacancies made available. The experimentally designed evaluation was carried out in 25 schools that were offering the program for the first time in 2012.
Randomization was done at the mother/caregiver level among applicants at each school who met the eligibility requirements established by SERNAM. If an applicant was assigned to the treatment group, positions were offered to all children under her care. This was done in order to respect the program’s objective of helping women to work. Once instructors received the list of selected participants, they had to contact the mother/caregiver by telephone to inform her that her children could attend the 4-7 Program. Women had to sign registration and agreement forms in order to enroll their children. The application process and awareness-raising activities were carried out by SERNAM.
Stratified randomization was performed within each school, using two variables consistently reported in the literature as being strongly correlated with FLFP: labor history (measured by whether the applicant was working at the time of application) and the presence of young children (measured using a dummy variable equal to one if the applicant cared for children under 5 years old). This information was obtained from the application form. There are 973 women in the control group and 1,137 in the treatment group. The baseline data is obtained from the application form, while the endline data comes from a household survey (conducted between March and May 2013) in which women were asked about their 2012 labor history, employment characteristics, program participation, among other information.