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Abstract: This is the second case in a two-case set that explores why likeminded policymakers in Uruguay and Chile, focused on the same basic problem, made very different choices in designing a government program to tackle it. Overall, this case pair showcases the decision-making process of Uruguayan political leaders in creating a broad national program to address problems in early childhood development, especially among poor families. The first case in the set, By Design: The Thinking Behind Uruguay Crece Contigo/Planners Mull Ambitious Early Childhood Model in Chile (A) sets out the political and bureaucratic context in Uruguay, then pivots to describe the development of a program that many Uruguayan policymakers admired—the early childhood development program in neighboring Chile—Chile Crece Contigo (Chile Grows with You). The “A” case ends with policymakers in the Uruguayan departamento of Canelones considering how to design their own early childhood pilot project. This second “B” case continues the story by describing how Uruguayan policymakers—first at the regional level and then at the national level—designed a different kind of program that embraced the strengths of their own small, close-knit country—in particular, a tradition of forging connections with marginalized families through a program of personalized home visits.
Learning Objective: In a world where policymakers are encouraged to replicate model programs, this case pair shows the importance of balancing the strengths of a specific design—proven in one context—with a recognition that a modified approach may be both necessary and more effective in a different context. After reading this second case, students can compare and contrast the divergent program design choices in both Chile and Uruguay and consider the broader implications for policy designers, generally.