The Kootenay Region experiences a fragmentation of services for families with young children. Finding health services for young children is like finding your way through a maze, parents report.
We know that children who require health and development services are not being referred to the services they need.
The problem is that communication and service delivery links between health and child development professionals are too weak to adequately support children in our region.
Now, we have two new pediatricians to our region and we need to engage them in a team environment to enhance the work they do. The Kootenay Child Development Centre project provides a health and child development service Centre to support their practice and link them with community services. This initiative serves families with children up to age 19.
The East Kootenay region is located in the southeast corner of BC and encompasses just over 45,000 sq. kms. The 2006 population for this area is 74,237 persons. The projected increase in population by the year 2031 is 9%. (BC Stats 2006 Census Profiles, PEOPLE 31)
The number of children 0-9 years in the East Kootenay Health Area in 2007/8 is 7,555. The number of children aged birth to 4 years is 3,540. Children attending school, aged 5 years to 14 years total 8,665 children. (BC Stats 2006 Census Profiles)
The EK Supported Child Development Program supported 138 children with developmental disabilities to attend a licensed child care setting in 2007-2008.
The EK Infant Development Program supported 180 children (0 – 3 years of age) with developmental disabilities in 2009-2010.
East Kootenay Friends of Children supported 70 families during 2009-present to travel outside our region to meet the medical needs of their children.
Three school districts in the East Kootenay region identified over 700 children with disabilities.
There are 6 major population centres in the East Kootenay: Fernie, Cranbrook, Kimberley, Windermere (Invermere), Creston and Golden. The diversity and rural nature of these communities; separated by mountain ranges, lakes and nestled, each in its own valley, makes each East Kootenay community unique.
Travel to larger centres to access health and development services is difficult and expensive. Calgary is a 4 ½ hour drive from Cranbrook, Vancouver – a 9-12 hour drive and Kelowna is a 6 -7 hour drive. Families with sick children are stressed when travelling long distances for medical services and travel times are increased during winter months.
We need a regional center where parents and professionals can access health and development services for children -a center that coordinates a set of regional health and development services.
We know we need a Child Development Centre because in looking at the map of such centers in BC, our area has been missed. Other BC families are benefitting from such centers in their regions.
Our geographic isolation makes us as far from BC Children’s Hospital and Sunny Hill services as are communities in northern BC. We are in the catchment area for Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Alberta.
We know that services to families and children will improve if we can provide a more comprehensive service delivery system that is coordinated and offered from a single site.
We will establish a coordinated network of child health and development services for the Kootenay region, based from a building called The Kootenay Child Development Centre.
This Centre will provide a solid foundation for health and development service delivery in the region.
The Centre, which will be a one-stop shop for children and families, will house Infant Development Consultants, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Physiotherapists, Supported Child Development Consultants, Interior Health Children’s Assessment Network, Autism supports, East Kootenay Friends of Children, tele-health teleconferencing, Child Care Resource and Referral, Kids Connection preschool and two pediatricians. As well, space will be provided for visiting professionals, i.e. infant mental health, MCFD Social Workers, Public Health Nursing, Assessment Specialists, Vision Specialists and Aboriginal services. There will be an extensive family resource, equipment and toy loan program on site.
Also integral to the space will be play, assessment and observation areas, child and family friendly space, private space to ensure confidentiality, and outdoor green play space, all of which will be accessible to the community/region.
– Improve supports to families and children with health and development problems
– To build on existing partnerships between health and development service providers to strengthen and enhance their work.
– To achieve this goal we have acquired a building suitable to the services it will house, and now need funds to renovate the structure to accommodate the partner services.
– Coordination is required to contract and manage the project phases and to coordinate operations and facility maintenance.
– Increase service referrals and retain services in our region
The Executive Director for the Community Connections Society of Southeast BC (CCS) is spearheading this project. Partnerships have been developed with nine existing services, including Interior Health and Ministry of Children and Family Development.
A community planning committee has become advisors to this project. Medical professionals, service agencies, and parents are included on this committee.
Community Connections Society currently owns and manages 6,400 square feet of space that houses Kids Connection Preschool, E K Supported Child Development Program, EK Child Care Resource and Referral and an extensive toy and equipment lending library.
The building is in the downtown core, across from a Safeway, with ample parking and very accessible to local transit.
Space adjacent to the current space has been purchased to provide another 8,000 – 9,000 square feet to house the services indicated in this proposal. This recently purchased space requires renovations prior to use.
The cost of renovations is estimated at 1.1 million. To date, the Society has raised over 1 million dollars towards this capital project of renovating the structure. Renovations are almost complete and we are only $50,000 away from our target.