SD73 wants details about government decision to end funding for children’s programs

The Ministry of Child and Family Development plans to move the funding it supplies to Make Children First and Success by Six in Kamloops to new in-house programming

Answers are still being sought as to how the local school district will be impacted by the provincial government’s decision to redirect funding from two longstanding community organizations beginning next February.

The Ministry of Child and Family Development plans to move the funding it supplies to Make Children First and Success by Six in Kamloops to new in-house programming, according to a letter outlining School District 73’s concerns with the move.

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“We like the status quo, but before you can judge if it’s bad or not, we need to know what it is,” SD73 board chair Meghan Wade told KTW.

Make Children First and Success by Six fund the salaries of program co-ordinators and the district wants to know how the change will impact those programs. Make Children First and Sucess by Six also contribute funds to the training of early-childhood educators.

In the letter, Wade writes that without immediate direction as to how the redirection will take shape, she suspects many skilled community co-ordinators will look for work elsewhere, taking their expertise and the relationships they have built with them.

She also expressed a concern that programming may be discontinued, particularly in rural communities.

The letter was dated July 10 and Wade said she is still waiting for a reply from Katrine Conroy, the minister of children and family development.

“I’m not surprised by the delay because it’s summer,” Wade said, adding that she expects a reply by the end of September.

Wade said SD73 didn’t hear about the government’s decision from the province, but learned about it from the two community groups, which were notified in June of the pending change.

“We appreciate our community partners were given long notice,” Wade said. “We’re just curious as to why the decision was made and how is this going to work going forward in February because these services are essential to our community.”

In her letter, Wade notes the ministry plans to redirect funding into services providing family navigation, family support, peer-to-peer mentorship, supports for Indigenous culture and language revitalization and programs to support social emotional well-being, but suggests that is already occurring under the current program delivery model.

Make Children First is a provincewide program established and funded by the ministry and operated by Interior Community Services, which brings service providers together to aid the development of children to age six. Success by Six funds various child-care programs for kids of the same age range and is operated under a partnership that includes the ministry, United Ways Credit Unions of BC and Aboriginal partners.

Wade said she hasn’t heard from other districts with the same concerns, but is waiting to hear from the B.C. School Trustees’ Association.

“It was my understanding they were having some discussions about this at their board level because other districts were also concerned,” Wade said.

In the letter, Wade also states there has been a “growing concern” over the lack of information from the ministry as to what comes next.

KTW has calls in to the ministry.

© 2018 Kamloops This Week

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