The Comox Valley Community Foundation approved a third special grant for the Building Connections for Valley Families project, in the amount of $100,000, which will fully fund the project through Spring 2023. The Connections project is focused on working together as a community to increase children’s health by connecting and supporting families in the Comox Valley.
This initiative of the Comox Valley Early Years Collaborative is in its fourth year and was developed in response to vulnerabilities identified in early childhood research and to the widely accepted knowledge that a child’s first years are fundamental for lifelong health and development. When the project originated, 40% of children in the Comox Valley were considered vulnerable on the Early Development Instrument scale, which measures the developmental health of kindergarten children. The goal of the project is to reduce vulnerability to 25% or less by the year 2025.
The Connections project applies a community development approach to address the systems change needed to tackle the complexities of reducing childhood vulnerability. Innovative interventions have been identified and developed within the smaller regions/neighbourhoods of the Comox Valley guided by extensive research, community consultation and parent engagement. The innovations are rooted in the expressed needs of families to be connected socially and supported within their communities.
“The need for supports and connections for families is more critical now than ever,” explains Joanne Schroeder, a member of the Building Connections Steering Committee. “Families have been isolated and struggling through the pandemic and offering safe and welcoming spaces for families to gather, connect and access supports is immensely valuable.”
She adds, “Many parents have expressed concern over their child’s/children’s lack of social contact during COVID. Often, attending the drop-in groups have been one of the first social encounters for children whose beginning years have been overlapped with the pandemic.”
“The Comox Valley Community Foundation is very pleased to continue its funding of this important project. Community connection is central to children’s healthy development and creates a necessary web of resources and supports that families can easily rely on,” said Christine Helpard, President of this Comox Valley Community Foundation “When families are supported, children thrive and become the foundation of stronger communities in the long term.”
The project’s focus for 2022 will be:
1) continuing the Family Connector position and the already established community partnerships enabling families to gather, connect and receive supports in the North Courtenay area;
2) selecting and implementing the top innovation ideas for both the Cumberland and the Royston/Union Bay/Fanny Bay areas; and
3) evaluating the data, identifying themes and selecting the innovations for the Courtenay City/West Courtenay neighbourhoods.
Funding for this project was made possible through Vancouver Foundation’s Robert and Florence Filberg Fund for Medical (Health) Research.
The Building Connections initiative is a project of the Comox Valley Early Years Collaborative, a network of over 40 individuals and organizations committed to improving the lives of children in the Comox Valley, whose shared vision is that all children and families are supported and thrive in the Comox Valley. For more information about the Early Years Collaborative and its work, please visit www.cveyc.ca.