Children First Initiatives support communities to identify and develop an integrated and comprehensive model of Early Childhood Development [ECD] service delivery for children 0 to 6 years of age and their families. They are funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. There are 45 initiatives throughout British Columbia. Children First Initiatives are key to creating networks that work together to build family-friendly and sustainable communities both within the early child development field and the broader community.
Children First Initiatives are led by early childhood leaders and local steering committees, who view early years community development as an inclusive, community-driven process supported by research, and that brings together agencies and people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to work collectively to support young children and families.
Children First Initiatives are not programs that deliver a service directly to children; rather, they are powerful and accessible catalysts to change at the community level. Children First allocates initiative funds to support service delivery priorities identified through community planning.
Children First Initiatives work to:
- Increase community capacity,
- Increase service delivery effectiveness,
- Engage “hard to reach” families,
- Increase opportunities for early identification and screening, and
- Improve outcomes for children and families.
Children First Initiatives are community driven. Each initiative will develop in a way that is unique to its community. Key to the development of the initiative is this community ownership. Some activities are core to the process and are undertaken in each initiative.
- The development, or enhancement, of a coalition of service providers and community members interested in healthy early childhood development. This group will have broad inter-sectoral representation. One of the roles of this group will be to act as the steering committee to the initiative. For more information on the East Kootenay Early Years Coalition please click here.
- The engagement, by the steering committee, of an individual to coordinate all the activities of the initiative.
- The participation of the Aboriginal, and as appropriate other multi-cultural, communities.
- The development of a strategic plan for the initiative, articulating goals, objectives, activities and intended outcomes.
- Evaluation of the achievement of the objectives of the initiative.
- The joint creation (with all other coalition members) of a community ECD plan – identifying local needs and priorities for young children and their families along with strategies to address those priorities.
- The development of innovative ways to use and/or link existing ECD resources and services more effectively and efficiently.
For more information on Early Years Programs in your community please visit www.ekkids.ca
For more information on Children 1st, please call 250.426.2542
- Community engagement and mobilization. A range of activities to involve community members in the support of young children and families.
- Public awareness activities designed to increase the understanding of the importance of the early years.
- Community research – to include a review of existing ECD assets, socio-economic characteristics of the community, information (EDI) on school readiness, and an overview of early childhood development “best practice”.
- The development of a mechanism(s) for making information about the ECD services and supports in the community widely available.
- A focused review and plan to enhance early identification and screening activities in the community.
- Strategies to engage “hard to reach” families in the community, including the identification and response to the barriers that limit access to services.