CVCF Funds Expansion of Early Years Building Connections project

Members of the Early Years Collaborative presented with the $100,000 cheque by Susan Auchterlonie, CVCF’s Executive Director

The Comox Valley Community Foundation has approved a special grant, in the amount of $100,000, towards the Building Connections for Valley Families project.

The Building Connections for Valley Families project was initiated in the spring of 2019, and was initially funded as a pilot project by Island Health, with a focus solely on the north Courtenay area. This special grant will allow the Comox Valley Early Years Collaborative to expand the project to all neighbourhoods within School District No. 71.

“This project was developed in response to the upward trend in early childhood vulnerability in the Comox Valley,” said Charlene Gray, a member of the Early Years Collaborative Leadership Team. “The intent is to work together as a community to increase children’s health in the early years, by identifying and building upon the strengths of the community in how it supports and encourages young children to thrive and develop physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.”

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) is used across BC to measure the developmental health of kindergarten children and includes five scales that measure physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communication skills and general knowledge. The EDI data, collected by School District No. 71 for 20 years through its kindergarten teachers, has shown that the Comox Valley has higher levels of vulnerability across one or more of the scales when compared to other areas on Vancouver Island and BC. 40% of children in our community are now considered within the vulnerable range on the EDI.

“This trend has been increasing over the last decade and it means that children are entering our schools with greater vulnerability,” said Allan Douglas, Director of Instructional Services (K-12). “As children enter our school system, we want them to come ready to learn and interact in a play based environment. We are very pleased that the Collaborative has chosen to address this through the Building Connections for Valley Families project and are hopeful that the project will achieve its goal of reducing vulnerability to 25% or less by the year 2025.”

“Early Childhood Development is a fundamental determinant of health,” said Dr. Charmaine Enns, North Island Medical Health Officer. “The evidence and science validating the benefits to children, families and communities is compelling and overwhelming. From an economic perspective alone, in 2017 the Conference Board of Canada calculated that for every $1 spent on early childhood education there is a societal benefit of $6.”

Dr. Enns added, “Investing in children today will have multiple dividends for their present, their future and our collective future.”

“This is the first time in the Comox Valley Community Foundation’s history that we have had the means to put towards a project of this magnitude,” said Matt Beckett, President of the Comox Valley Community Foundation. “The Early Years Collaborative has demonstrated the need, and the support extended by the School District, Island Health, and Comox Valley Community Health Network solidified our decision-making. We are excited to be able to target funding to this important initiative in order to maximize forever impact in our community.”

Funding for this project was made possible through Vancouver Foundation’s Robert and Florence Filberg Fund for Medical (Health) Research.

The Comox Valley Early Years Collaborative is a network of over 40 individuals and organizations committed to improving the lives of the 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, please visit www.cveyc.ca.

Founded in 1996, the Comox Valley Community Foundation is an independent charity registered with Canada Revenue Agency, dedicated to enriching life in the Comox Valley forever. With the support of local families, businesses and organizations who have created endowed funds, the CVCF has awarded more than $3.1 million to over 170 local non-profits and 230 students.

For further information, or to learn more about how you can make an impact, please visit www.cvcfoundation.org or call 250-338-8444.