Funding slashed for innovative program

  • Mar. 29, 2010 8:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Forty thousand dollars worth of programs for Haida Gwaii’s under six population are being cut now that the province has slashed its Success by 6 funding. Old Massett-based Success by 6 coordinator Sheri Disney says she received word recently that half the funding for the six-year old project has been cut for 2010-11 and the province would not be providing anymore funding after that. She says she’ll be paid next year to focus on dissolving the office that has supported initiatives such as the Imagination Library that sends a book a month to every child until their 5th birthday, Kindergym and providing north end transportation to help parents and children get to programs. She has been working with Success by 6 since 2006 and has a 30-hour a week contract. The organization works province-wide along with local businesses, credit unions and the United Way to support early childhood education. She provides staff support to many projects like Ready, Set, Learn, the Parents as Literacy Supporters and direct funding for resource materials like Haida language books, author visits and more. Many of the programs will be threatened without Success by 6 support. “After six years, the program is finally strong, fully developed, and moving forward on innovative programs that are making a difference in our communities. And now the BC Liberals will cancel it outright. It just doesn’t make sense,” said New Democrat children and families critic Maurine Karagianis. The NDP and others are advocating for the decision to be reversed in the legislature. “The cancellation.means that more than 400 front-line community services for families (province-wide) are now on the chopping block,” said MLA Gary Coons, who noted that the program has become an indispensable resource for families in rural and aboriginal communities. Funding received through Success By 6 allowed community organizations to apply for matching grants – now that opportunity is gone, and the survival of many of these services is at risk, they said. Ms Disney said Haida Gwaii will receive some new Children First dollars this year thanks to some of her work. This amounts to $20,000 and is a fixed budget line item, so should be around for a while. (Success by 6 was never a fixed line item, she says.) But that money is dedicated to children from 0-19 years of age, so it is far less dedicated than the 0-6 funding provided by Success by 6, which she says is really adaptive. “It looks different in every community. It was hard to lose,” she said.