ECD History

Background of Childhood Development in B.C.

History of Early Childhood Development in B.C.

Girl At Art Easel

In September 2000, the First Ministers signed a federal/provincial/territorial agreement called the Early Childhood Development Agreement, committing to action in four areas: Promoting healthy pregnancy, birth and infancy; Improve parenting and family supports; Strengthening Early Childhood Development, Learning and Care; and Strengthening Community Supports. As a result of this agreement, each province and territory was promised federal funding over 5 years (2001-2006), to improve the ECD outcomes for children from preconception to age six. BC’s share was $291million.

Each provincial or territorial government had the flexibility to tailor its ECD funding to best address the needs of children within their province. Under the action area “Strengthening Community Supports”, the BC government chose to use some of the federal dollars to launch Children First Initiatives in 14 communities. Fraser North communities: Burnaby, New Westminster, Tri-Cities, and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows received funding.

What is the Children First Initiative?

The Children First Initiative is "a community partnership that brings together all sectors of the community to determine an integrated and comprehensive system for early childhood development".

This initiative is not about creating an ECD program per se, but rather a system by which people in a community work together to ensure ECD supports are integrated and comprehensive. As this process develops, communities will learn what are the characteristics, strengths and needs of a comprehensive ECD system. The Children First Learning Initiative will ultimately build the capacity of communities to support the healthy growth and development of children and their families.

Funding is to be used to:

  • Increase understanding of the community resources and assets that support young children and their families (community mapping)
  • Develop community ECD action plans that enhance community capacity, increase service integration, and support improved ECD outcomes
  • Develop innovative ways to use and/or link existing ECD resources and services more effectively and efficiently
  • Undertake access/outreach activities that engage ‘hard to reach families’
  • Explore new opportunities and approaches for early identification
  • Encourage new partnerships that enhance opportunities for young children and their families

Each Children First Initiative is expected to learn:

  • the key community characteristics, cultural awareness and partnerships needed to support young children and their families;
  • processes, resources and support to build sustainable community partnerships and coalitions;
  • processes to best support communities and service providers to determine their strengths and their needs;
  • approaches that facilitate integration and community ownership of service delivery models;
  • processes that engages all families in accessing information, supports and services; and
  • emerging practices to bring the strengths and needs together to improve the well-being of young children.

Objectives of Children First Learning Initiative:

The following objectives support the overall intent of the Learning Initiatives – to develop a comprehensive, integrated service delivery system that supports children and their families:

  • Increased community capacity – communities come together, partnerships develop and communities learn how to work together collaboratively to enhance opportunities for children and families.
  • increased effectiveness and efficiency - in coming together, community partners learn how to work more effectively and efficiently with their collective resources to enhance opportunities for children and families.
  • engaging "hard to reach" families - in an effort to increase access to services for ‘hard to reach’ families, undertake a range of activities to ensure that all families access necessary supports and services
  • increased opportunities for early identification and screening – explore new opportunities and approaches for early identification, including preconception, universal newborn and toddler screening and
  • using strength –based approaches.improving outcomes for children and families - communities focus on ECD in ways that make a significant difference for children, families, service providers and the community at large.

Source: Ministry of Children and Family Development's "Children First Implementation Guidelines". December 2002