Case #2115.0

Cuna Más: Peru’s Early Childhood Program Struggles to Maintain Quality as It Scales Up

Publication Date: January 29, 2018
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In 2012, amid much fanfare, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala launched an ambitious program on early childhood development called Cuna Más. The program, based on a successful home visiting intervention in Jamaica, was designed to improve the cognitive and emotional development of children below the age of three, living in poverty. The government’s aim was to scale the program nationwide. Initially, despite the logistical challenges of reaching rural communities in a geographically diverse country—from communities residing high up in the Andes to those deep in the Amazon jungle—the program grew at a rapid rate, increasing coverage by 50 percent or more each year between 2012 and 2015.

By early 2016, however, Cuna Más encountered a formidable set of challenges. Amid political pressure to increase coverage quickly, the program had to ensure that it continued to deliver a quality service—even as Cuna Más staff navigated the delicate task of convincing communities to adopt a program that, at its heart, relied on the willingness of families to let strangers into their homes. Cuna Más staff was nonetheless hopeful. In many instances, it was the first social program to reach remote, vulnerable populations across Peru.

But some civil society groups that had initially hailed President Humala for focusing on early childhood now argued that the program was hobbled by operational challenges that threatened the long-term sustainability of the program.

As the April 2016 elections loomed on the horizon a crucial question about Humala’s flagship program lingered. Could Cuna Más deliver with quality at scale? 

Learning Objective:
Students gain a deeper understanding of how a social program that has proven to work in another part of the world can sustainably scale up with quality in a complex environment, amid a host of political, cultural, and logistical challenges.

Other Details

Case Author:
Anjani Datla
Faculty Lead:
Julie Boatright Wilson
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Funding Source:
Bernard Van Leer Foundation