Funding cuts hit Success by Six programs across the region

Boundary Sentinel
By Boundary Sentinel
March 13th, 2011

It’s a made-in-B.C. program that directly helps parents and kids – by offering a range of worthwhile programs such as early learning and literacy, nutrition, children’s play, outreach programs, parenting skills development, and cultural programs to enhance the lives of young children and their families. Last week the B.C. government announced that Success By 6 partnership is being supported again across the province with an investment of $3.4 million for 2011/12 – lower than past year’s funding. The funding reductions over the past two years have been taking their toll on the Boundary-based programs.   Last year when the program was first announced to be discontinued, the region’s services took a 62 percent reduction in strategic implementation and public awareness and fundraising dollars while aboriginal and capacity building dollars remained the same. Partners said that last week’s announcement means an additional 5 percent reduction to the strategic implementation funds and 7.7 percent reduction in capacity building affecting the budgets for programs and services to children and families.   “We will not be able to fund all that we have in the past and are taking a closer look at local priorities,” noted Maxine Ruzicka, Success By 6 Council of Partners chair. “Our large geographic area, sparse population, and inconsistent government funding have contributed to a history of collaboration and coordination of programs and services in the Boundary. This funding reduction will affect our children and families. Our partner agencies across our communities will be hard pressed to fill in the gaps and try to make up for the shortfall in funding.”   Success By 6 – a partnership between the United Ways and Credit Unions of B.C. and the B.C. government – is dedicated to ensuring that children ages zero to six have access to programs and resources supporting healthy growth and development. It helps to ensure that young children develop the emotional, social, cognitive, and physical skills they need as they enter school.   In the Boundary, funding enables programs to be provided through the Family Centres and collaborations with other organizations and events.   “The Success By 6 initiative has funded Recreation play programs (swimming, skating, stroller fitness for parents), literacy, and other early childhood development programs in our StrongStart Family Centres and the public library,” explained Early Learning Coordinator, Ellen Strelaeff.  “It has also funded cooking clubs in all of the Family Centres in the Boundary, child safe for parents, and peer mentor activities. Some of the funding is designated for the coordinator role to ensure we continue to collaborate with and make connections for parents and service providers including organizing Early Years Fairs, partnering with the Fall Fair and GFI on setting up Family Friendly Zones, and keeping informed of and sharing and training others on the current early years best practice. The funding has also given us the ability to make it possible for parents to attend training by paying conference fees, child care costs, and gas.”   The local team of partners is dedicated to finding ways for the programs to continue. The partners include: the Grand Forks District Credit Union, the Phoenix Foundation, and is supervised through the Boundary Family and Individual Services Society. While the final decisions on how to continue the programs have not been made, the commitment to the importance of the programs is solid.   “Since the inception of the initiative, we have embraced our role as a lead partner,” commented Kelly Thomas, CEO of Grand Forks Credit Union. “We have contributed through various fundraising activities including Photos with Santa and the Credit Union Collectible animal sales and have paid for the Success By 6 advertising spot in the Gazette since it started. Our Board Chair, Michael Strukoff, led the motion for all BC Credit Unions to commit to their local initiative. We believe supporting our local children and families in their early years will benefit the Boundary area today and in the future. Our hope is that the funding will continue in order to ensure the future of these programs.”   Recently joining this partnership is the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, to help promote the importance of Aboriginal early childhood development in B.C.   The early years – from birth to age six – are extremely important in a child’s life. These years are the most critical for neurological development, as the most significant brain growth occurs in the first six years of life. That’s why early childhood development programs such as those supported by Success By 6 are key building blocks to success for B.C. families and communities.   Quick Facts:   ·         Success By 6 funds over 450 projects in 225 communities throughout the province. ·         Success By 6 is an early childhood development initiative dedicated to providing all children with a good start in life. Success By 6 mobilizes resources to invest in prevention-focused early childhood programs and services. ·         Recognizing the importance of culture, language, self-determination and self-government to Aboriginal people in B.C., Success By 6 has dedicated $1 million toward the implementation of an Aboriginal strategy. ·         The strategy is designed to work with Aboriginal communities to increase representation in Success By 6 initiatives, strengthen community capacity, increase cultural awareness of Success By 6 partners, and promote awareness of the importance of the early years in the healthy development of children. ·         Funds have so far been distributed to support over 86 Aboriginal early childhood development projects throughout the province.   Learn More:   For more information about Success By 6, please visit: www.successby6bc.ca For more information on early childhood development programs funded through the ministry, please visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/early_childhood/index.htm

For more information on Early Learning programs through the Ministry of Education, such as full-day kindergarten and StrongStart BC, please visit: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/early_learning/  

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