FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FIRST BABY STEPS TAKEN TOWARDS A NATIONAL CHILDREN'S AGENDAOTTAWA - After many years of planning, advocacy work and policy development, members of the National Children's Alliance - a coalition of voluntary and NGO organizations dedicated to children's issues - are finally seeing results. The federal government's $2.2 billion dollar investment in early childhood development came into force on April 1st with the start of five years of funding going to the provinces and territories.
The Early Childhood Development agreement, signed by governments in September 2000, is meant to support provincial and territorial investments in four specific areas: promoting healthy pregnancy, birth and infancy; improving parenting and family supports; strengthening early childhood development, learning and care; and strengthening community supports.
"While the National Children's Alliance is very supportive of this effort by governments to help our youngest children, there is nothing yet in place that will allow Canadians to hold their governments accountable for how the money is spent." said Marcel Lauziere, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on Social Development, (a member organization of the National Children's Alliance).
"There is no question this is the first concrete step in support of the National Children's Agenda - an agenda that federal, provincial and territorial governments signed onto in 1999," said Lauziere. " But a critical part of that Agenda is the measuring and monitoring of activities designed to improve the well-being of our children. This has to happen with the Early Childhood Development agreement".
The National Children's Alliance is calling on governments to bring representatives of the voluntary and NGO sectors to the table to assist in setting priorities for spending on early childhood development and to find ways to measure child outcomes as a result of the increased spending.
"It is critical that we work with governments on tracking progress on the early childhood development front. Given our community-based expertise and knowledge, we can make a very valuable contribution to this process," said Dianne Bascombe, Coordinator of the National Children's Alliance.
Not all provinces and territorities have announced how they will invest their share of the funding from the Early Childhood Development agreement. "It is time to ask all governments how, when, and where the money will be spent at the community level. Members of the voluntary sector are ready to do their part to ensure the funding is well spent on programs and services that meet community needs. We can also help monitor the impact these resources will have on our children and their families," said Bascombe.
For further information contact: