Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre (CFEC) executive director Chris Pettman is looking for funding for some of the CFEC programs after the provincial government reduced the available funding.
“I’m still hopeful that we’re going to be able to apply for some funding but we won’t get all the funding. I do appreciate the government for placing a priority on childcare in the province, I know that has been a concern for a lot of families for a long time and it’s really eased the financial burden of families but there is a price to pay for that.”
Part of that price has been some of the early year programs that the CFEC and a lot of communities are able to offer, says Pettman. What makes the South Cariboo a bit of an anomaly has been that in other communities there has been more of an allotment of cash available for them to apply, he says. At this point for the South Cariboo there has been zero allotted, he adds.
“I’m still working on a provincial government level to get some access to some of the funding. The last thing I want to do at this point is to worry our clients and the people that depend on these programs and try and hopefully before our funding runs out, which the fiscal year is April first so these programs technically end March 31 of this year, and I’m just hoping that I can have an alternate source of funding in place.”
The Ministry of Children and Family Development is instead looking to put resources into direct programs and services that support families with young children, according to a ministry spokesperson, saying that they’ve heard that many families feel that they do not have access to the direct services that they need in their community.
“The funding previously used for several initiatives that provided co-ordination services has now been redirected into other programs, including parent and family supports, early childhood development, and Indigenous culture and language programming.
“While there have been some funding changes to the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre, these funds were used for co-ordination rather than to provide direct services, and the ministry does not expect this change to have any direct impact to the families the centre serves. As part of this redirection, the Cariboo Family Enrichment Centre received notice in November 2018 that two of its early years contracts would not be renewed for 2019/20: Children First ($28,000) and Early Years Centre ($54,000).”
The CFEC does continue to hold multi-year contracts with the ministry totalling more than $210,000 annually, according to a ministry spokesperson.
“These contracts remain in place for the centre to provide family programs. In addition, the Society also receives $115,099.08 annually to manage the child care resource and referral (CCRR) which provides information and resources to families in the area.”
When pressed on other programs, such as Success By Six, the spokesperson said that the process is ongoing.
“While some early years contracts will end on March 31, 2019, the ministry invited organizations that provide direct services to families to apply for funding through a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. These RFPs closed Jan. 16, 2019 with funding to be provided on a three-year term from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022. Successful proponents have not yet been announced.”
Pettman says he’s met with Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett about the issue.
While still trying to figure out the details, Barnett says the cuts will be detrimental to local children.
“It’s pretty hard to understand why the programs were cut,” she says. “Those programs are very important to the development of young children and very important as they move forward. I find it very devastating for families and for these young children and especially if you live in rural British Columbia where accessibility for parents for a lot of things are not available.”
The CFEC has done a really good job providing services, says Barnett, adding that it’s important to have stability in programs such as these.
“When we go back to Victoria, we’ll be doing estimates. I’ll certainly be questioning the ministry in estimates why these programs have been cut.”
The programs offered by the CFEC are used by hundreds of families in various capacities, according to Pettman.
“All those programs have a lot of tenure in them so they’ve been around for a long time. Families in the South Cariboo have come to depend on them they’re sort of like the hallmarks of the early years programs such as Success By Six and Children First and then the government made a decision about five years ago to establish the early year centre so that was the local government but now with the new government in place I guess they’re changing the priority of where the funding goes for the early years and it’s going to daycare or childcare as opposed to early years programs, developmental programs, these types of programs.”
If anyone has any concerns, questions or ideas Pettman says people are always welcome to contact him.