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