Seven Saskatchewan communities, including The Battlefords and Meadow Lake, are receiving Early Years Family Resource Centres. The centres are slated to open in the fall of 2019 and are getting $1.5 million in funding through the Canada-Saskatchewan Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.
Early Years Family Resource Centres provide a place where families with young children can access reliable information, services and supports to help them raise healthy children. Expert advice could be made available on everything from how to connect with your children to how to stimulate child development. Deputy Premier and Education Minister Gordon Wyant says this is an expansion on the success seen in a pilot run in Yorkton, Regina and Sandy Bay.
“We’ve seen almost fifty thousand site visits in the three pilots that we’ve had over the last year of 2017 to 2018. I think that’s indicative of the fact that these are centres that are fairly important to the communities so that families get access to the resources they need,” says Wyant.
Services provided at these centres may help identify risks for developmental delays or disabilities or provide information about services in their communities for things early childhood learning, parenting programs or literacy opportunities. There could also be interactive activities for babies and toddlers, and support groups where young parents can share their experiences with others and seek advice.
Wyant says the centres will act as a facilitator for families to get access or know how to access these services in their community. He points to communities like Revelstoke for evidence to their success, which saw a decrease in childhood vulnerability from twenty-five to ten per cent after implementing similar facilities.
The new centres will be developed through community partnerships led by KidsFirst, who will be responsible for finding physical space in each of the communities, hiring staff and developing programming for a planned opening this fall.