North Okanagan Early Care and Learning Strategy

Submitted by: Lynn Reside
Success by 6 / Children First
North Okanagan, Columbia, Shuswap Region

In remote/ rural communities, child care is mostly provided in family or unlicensed child care. The few group centres have long wait lists and high staff turnover. Unemployment, shift work and on-call work require flexibility for families. Our Early Years Council is raising capacity to ensure that all families have access to quality child care. Rack cards were developed to help families with the social/emotional challenges of transitions.

Training opportunities include parents, untrained providers, ECE's, parent educators and Kindergarten teachers. We maximize participation by planning inclusively. We partner with all early years trainers – school districts, ECEBC, CCRR and the Early Years Council. The Council is the glue that brings the others together. By partnering, the costs are kept low.

We promote children's rights through our Children's Charter initiative and build relationships between diverse groups. Our Investigative Reading group engages family providers, ECE's, Kindergarten, middle and high school teachers to discuss scholarly articles, challenging educators to explore innovation in early years' best practice. One parent drop-in program adapted to an outdoor program at no increased cost due to our training and public awareness-raising about connecting children with nature. The local newspaper and the library are partners. Newspaper articles review the readings so that the community becomes more aware. The library promotes the books.

A Child Care Administrator's Network engages private and non-profit child care to develop strong leaders in the community. The Council pays for relief staff so that ECE's are represented at Early Years Council meetings. Champion of the Child and Child Care Appreciation awards are presented at special events. Children are invited to City Hall every National Child Day to ensure they are visible citizens in the community.

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