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Capital Daily teams up with United Way to raise $200k for kids

This year's holiday drive will support early childhood programs in Greater Victoria

By Emily Vance
November 18, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Capital Daily teams up with United Way to raise $200k for kids

This year's holiday drive will support early childhood programs in Greater Victoria

By Emily Vance
Nov 18, 2022
Photo: Kathryn Wu / United Way
Photo: Kathryn Wu / United Way
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Capital Daily teams up with United Way to raise $200k for kids

This year's holiday drive will support early childhood programs in Greater Victoria

By Emily Vance
November 18, 2022
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Capital Daily teams up with United Way to raise $200k for kids
Photo: Kathryn Wu / United Way

Capital Daily good news coverage is supported by Early Music Vancouver, but the stories and journalism are produced independently by Capital Daily. Per our policy, Early Music Vancouver has no editorial input into this story.

Early childhood education is crucial for the development of healthy citizens, and greater investment in the field could go a long way towards building healthier families—and ultimately, societies.

That was the message at the Capital Daily Holiday Drive Virtual Launch Event that took place on Nov. 17. The virtual event marked the start of the third annual Capital Daily Holiday Drive, held in partnership with the United Way Southern Vancouver Island (UWSVI). 

The event featured presentations from two local leaders in the field of early childhood education: Dr. Enid Elliot, an instructor of Early Learning and Care at Camosun College, and Dr. Alison Gerlach, Assistant Professor with the School of Child and Youth Care at UVic. They both believe we need to spend more time and energy setting up the youngest members of society to succeed.

“If there was one time in human development, to offer support, care, healing, positive and health promoting relationships and opportunities, it is during pregnancy and early childhood from birth to the early school years,” Gerlach said, adding that the benefits of supporting children and their parents early in life are “potentially higher than at any other time in the lifespan.”

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Last year, the holiday campaign raised $170,000. This year, the goal is set at $200,000. Every dollar raised will be matched by Capital Daily donors and United Way partners. The money will go toward supporting 5,000 children and their families in education, social inclusion, well-being and meeting basic needs. 

The programs are put on through 26 of UWSVI’s local community partners and delivered by neighbourhood groups, community associations, and non-profit societies throughout Greater Victoria.

Jenny McLeod, United Way Southern Vancouver Island’s director of philanthropy, says these programs are a crucial area of focus especially as children and families deal with the fallout from pandemic lockdowns.

“The pandemic had a profound effect on children in terms of anxiety levels, delayed motor skills, and missed milestones due to lack of socialization,” McLeod said.

“Early childhood investments help parents and caregivers provide children with social interactions and opportunities for learning. We are working on strengthening the kids’ ability to communicate, regulate emotions, maintain relationships, and develop a sense of belonging in their families, schools and within the community.”

The United Way estimates that one in three children in Greater Victoria are considered developmentally vulnerable by the time they go to school. Fifteen per cent of families in Greater Victoria are also considered low-income, and might struggle to access affordable childcare.

“Canada as a wealthy country has many children who are disadvantaged from the start, due to structural factors that are way beyond their immediate family environment, or their family's control,” Gerlach said.

Study after study shows providing affordable and quality care is one way to even the playing field for children who come from adverse socioeconomic backgrounds. 

“Quality early learning child care programs can dramatically improve long term health outcomes for children who experience early trauma and adversity with lower rates of chronic disease in their adult years,” Gerlach said.

But Elliot said the current system in BC is understaffed and unaffordable, making childcare difficult to access for many people. The Victoria Foundation’s Vital Signs report for 2022 found that 66% of Victorians report “below average” or “poor” access to affordable childcare. People who make higher incomes reported better access than people who make less money.  

“We don't have the needed spaces. We particularly don't have spaces for babies, or children who have special needs. Waitlists are long, and families have little choice,” Elliot said.

“Childcare is a necessity for many families and these young families are stressed, making ends meet caring for children and working.”

The provincial government is currently working toward making care more accessible through a program called ChildCareBC. Launched in 2018, it aims to provide affordable, inclusive, and accessible care through providing support for early childhood educators, expanding ECE programs in post-secondary schools, and funding childcare programs. Through the program, the province plans to add 50,000 licensed childcare spaces in BC by 2025-2026.

While Elliot acknowledges that the state of childcare in Victoria is under much-needed transformation, they said at the moment, families still struggle to obtain the care they need.

Through campaigns like this one, the United Way hopes to help bridge that gap.

“United Way’s mission is that everyone on Southern Vancouver Island has the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said McLeod.

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