There are 103 Early Childhood Coalitions across the province, including the local Forty Mile Early Childhood Coalition, who are in jeopardy of closing if the government does not supply them with their annual operating fund of $22,500 by the end of the month for needs in their regions.
Early Childhood coalitions contribute locally and provincially to conversations how to improve supports, programs that affect a child’s early years, focusing on the ages zero to six and their families.
The Forty Mile coalition uses the funds for a program coordinator.
“It’s been an ongoing struggle,” said Corinna Roth-Beacome, member of the Forty Mile coalition board.
“In the Forty Mile region we wouldn’t be able to continue what we’re doing without our coordinator. Our coalition is in partnership with FCSS who sits on it (the board), Alberta Health Services has representation on it (and) we have community members that sit on it.”
“We come together to advocate and do work for the coalition for the Forty Mile region. We’re all busy people, so who then takes it on and that’s why we felt we needed a coordinator. We’re all overwhelmed with work and responsibilities already and we just really see a potential hole in our community.”
The coalition was an original pilot project and the government was giving year-to-year monies to the local coalitions to become more sustainable.
Roth-Beacome was uncertain as to why the money has been delayed in arriving to the coalitions.
“What I understood is the department within the ministries has changed(now under Child Services) as to who will be administering the funds,” she said.
“As it stands right now, we apply for the grant every year. If we need to make application, we need to know so we can get it together and get it done.”
Roth-Beacome said “It’s a great support and a great program … especially rural when we’re facing so much isolation. We don’t have all those other resources that are available to urban centres.”
Alternative programming that families could use is the story time at the libraries and local play groups for child development.
Representatives from FCSS and the coalition presented to the County of Forty Mile’s council meeting on Feb. 27 where a letter of support was approved for the organization.
“It’s a valuable program in our area because there are so many young children under six that are in isolated areas that don’t get social interaction,” said Deputy Reeve Joan Hughson.
“We like the program and want to support it.”