Presidential Decree No. 603: Child and Youth Welfare Code in the Philippines

The Child and Youth Welfare Code, also known as Presidential Decree No. 603 in the Philippines, is a cornerstone of the country’s commitment to nurturing and protecting its younger population. This comprehensive legal framework addresses every aspect of child welfare, ranging from ensuring rights to family life, development, and access to basic needs, to fostering a safe and supportive environment for all children and youth under the age of 18.

Especially aimed at vulnerable groups like abandoned, neglected, or abused children, as well as those with disabilities, the code ensures that the legal, educational, and health-related needs of these groups are met comprehensively. As we dive deeper, we will explore the structure of this code, the specific benefits it provides, and practical steps on how individuals and communities can ensure these rights are upheld, contributing to the holistic development of the Filipino youth.

child and youth welfare code
Credits: PNA

What is the Child and Youth Welfare Code?

The Child and Youth Welfare Code, established by Presidential Decree No. 603, is a comprehensive legal framework designed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of the young generation in the Philippines. It covers various aspects of child welfare, including rights to family life, development, and basic needs, ensuring that children receive the care, education, and legal protection they deserve.

Significance of the Code

The Child and Youth Welfare Code, officially known as Presidential Decree No. 603 in the Philippines, plays a foundational role in safeguarding the rights and welfare of children and youth, a demographic that constituted approximately 40% of the country’s population according to the 2015 census by the Philippine Statistics Authority. This legislative framework, alongside subsequent laws such as the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 (Republic Act No. 9344) and the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act (Republic Act No. 7610), underscores the Philippine government’s commitment to ensuring the holistic development and protection of its younger citizens. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), along with other child-focused agencies, reports annually on the various programs and interventions implemented under these laws, aiming to reduce cases of child abuse, neglect, and exploitation, which have been significant, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DSWD documenting thousands of cases yearly. The Child and Youth Welfare Code’s significance, therefore, lies in its comprehensive approach to addressing the multifaceted needs of children and youth, promoting their best interests, and ensuring their rights are protected, against the backdrop of challenging social issues and the need for sustained advocacy and action to protect this vulnerable sector.

Legal Basis

The CYWC operates under the authority of various governmental bodies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Council for Welfare of Children (CWC). These agencies work together to enforce the code, formulate policies, and oversee the implementation of programs aimed at safeguarding children’s rights.


The Child and Youth Welfare Code provides numerous benefits designed to ensure the healthy development and protection of children:

  • Right to be born well: Recognition of children’s rights from conception.
  • Wholesome family life: Ensures children have access to a loving and supportive family environment.
  • Development opportunities: Provides support for the mental, physical, and emotional development of children, including special provisions for those who are gifted or have special needs.
  • Basic needs fulfillment: Guarantees access to a balanced diet, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, and proper medical attention.

Eligibility / Qualifications

The CYWC covers all children and youth under the age of 18 in the Philippines. Special attention is given to vulnerable groups such as abandoned, neglected, or abused children, as well as those who are physically or mentally challenged.


To benefit from the CYWC, the involved children must be recognized as being under the age of 18 and legally classified as needing protection or assistance under the stipulations of the code.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Benefit from the Child and Youth Welfare Code

  1. Report to Authorities: Contact the DSWD, your local Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC), or other relevant authorities if a child’s rights are being violated or if they need protection.
  2. Document Evidence: Collect any evidence that can support the child’s case while ensuring the child’s safety and privacy.
  3. Seek Legal Advice: Consult a child welfare attorney or legal aid organization to understand the best course of action and ensure the child’s rights are upheld.
  4. Maintain Confidentiality: Keep all information about the child and their situation confidential to protect their privacy and well-being.
  5. Follow Legal Procedures: Cooperate with legal processes and authorities to ensure the child receives the necessary protection and care.

Tips and Reminders for Utilizing CYWC

  1. Understand the Rights of Children and Youth: Familiarize yourself with the specific rights afforded to children and youth under the welfare code, including the right to proper care and nutrition, protection from abuse and exploitation, and access to education.
  2. Report Abuse or Neglect: If you suspect a child is being abused, neglected, or exploited, it’s imperative to report it to the appropriate authorities immediately. This could be the local Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office, a child protection unit, or law enforcement.
  3. Promote Positive Discipline: The welfare code often emphasizes the importance of positive, non-violent discipline. Encourage and practice forms of discipline that do not harm the child physically or psychologically.
  4. Support Education and Development: Ensure that children and youth have access to quality education and opportunities for development. This includes not only formal education but also life skills and vocational training as appropriate.
  5. Ensure Participation in Decisions: Children and youth have the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives, in accordance with their evolving capacities. Listen to their opinions and involve them in discussions relevant to their care, education, and future.
  6. Provide Special Protection for Vulnerable Groups: Some children and youth, such as those with disabilities, from indigenous communities, or in conflict with the law, may require additional protection and support. Be aware of and advocate for their specific needs.
  7. Access to Health Care: Ensure that children and youth receive regular health check-ups and have access to necessary medical care. This includes mental health services and support for those who have experienced trauma or abuse.
  8. Encourage Family or Community-Based Care: Whenever possible, support efforts to maintain children in family or community-based care settings, rather than institutional care, to promote their social and emotional development.
  9. Stay Informed About Legal Updates: Laws and policies regarding child and youth welfare can change. Stay informed about any updates or amendments to the welfare code to ensure compliance and the best possible care.
  10. Advocacy and Community Involvement: Get involved in community efforts to promote the rights and welfare of children and youth. Advocacy can lead to stronger policies and programs to support their development and protection.

Remember, the welfare and protection of children and youth are collective responsibilities. By following these tips and reminders, individuals and communities can contribute to a nurturing and safe environment for all children and youth.

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