Another new service at the CVCDA is the Early Years Centre.
“The Early Years Centres are a provincial pilot (program),” said CVCDA executive director Joanne Schroeder. “The provincial government decided that they wanted to put more energy into supporting children in their youngest years and one of the ways they are doing that is by having the Early Years Centres around the province. The intent of the program is to make services more accessible, and to (identify) the kids that need assistance earlier.”
Fifty-five communities applied for the pilot project and the Comox Valley was one of 12 communities awarded the program. There are two other such centres on the Island, both in the Greater Victoria area.
Michelle Guthrie is the Early Years Centre co-ordinator at the CVCDA. She came onboard in August and has been busy working with website developers to put together an easy-to-navigate site (www.valleychild.ca), that offers information on support groups and programs in the Comox Valley.
“This is a much broader spectrum (than CVCDA only),” said Guthrie. “The CDA is kind of a host agency, but my position is to help families access any number of programs in the Valley that are applicable to the zero to six age range.”
Information for new parents, or parents new to the Comox Valley; funding and financial help; health and development; among other things, is available with the click of a mouse.
There’s even an events calendar that covers everything from child programs at the public library, to breastfeeding support group meetings. “I am also doing outreach on a non-website basis, because we realize that not all families are online,” Guthrie said.
“And this is not necessarily only for parents looking for extra support. This is more about getting parents the information they need to be supporting their children through the early years, to ensure they are as healthy as possible.