Parents with young children in Kelowna can rejoice Saturday morning.
Children’s development centre Starbright has been given a two-year extension of their service agreement with Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). The purpose of the extension, which was agreed to late Friday night, is to provide families with multiple services for children six and under. The extension has a third-year option as well.
Starbright has been providing care to Central Okanagan families for more than 50 years. The facility was set to lose all it funding starting in June as the provincial NDP government was set to pull funding and start giving it to Family Connection Centres (FCC).
Services included at Starbright are speech and language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, infant development, supported child development, and clinical counselling for children with complex development needs.
Families that use Starbright started a campaign to keep the facility alive, which garnared a passionate response.
“Concerns over the FCC pilot and how it might impact Starbright operations have been challenging to Starbright, our staff, our parents, and their children,” said Starbright President Carol Meise. “We are very pleased we have earned this opportunity to continue providing the excellent care and professional service to families in need in the Central Okanagan. The parents who rallied for our cause were absolutely instrumental in opening minds and pushing the Ministry of Children and Family Development to work with us to find the best solution for their children.”
Starbright will continue to run along with FCC, which supports children ages six to 19.
“The Starbright parents have been absolute and committed advocates for their children,” said Meise. “Their success in keeping our child development centre open and operating at this time is a testament to the power of a group working together and developing solutions to help make their children’s lives better.”
Before receiving the good news, a rally at Starbright was scheduled at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning to bring awareness to what was happening. The rally still went ahead, but it was more of a celebration for their short-term win.
#Kelowna’s Starbright childcare centre was going to get their funding taken away before given a two-year extension on Saturday morning. A rally scheduled has turned into a celebration of the two year deal @KelownaCapNews @BlackPressMedia pic.twitter.com/MT6IQVsltO
— Jordy Cunningham (@CunninghamJordy) February 4, 2023
Around 150 people were in attendance standing on both sides of Bernand Street, holding signs for people to support Starbright. They chanted “keep doors open at Starbright” throughout the event.
Included in the mass of people was Kelowna Mayor Tom Dyas and MLAs Renee Merrifeld and Norm Letnick.
“[This is] extremely important for the community, and for everyone they take care of,” Dyas told Capital News. “I congratulate the organizaition on the lobbying efforts they have with regards of bringing it to the attention of the provincial government and also the interaction in regards with our MLAs.”
As members of the Starbright team addressed the crowd at the rally, so did Merrifield, saying “We are with you, we are standing here, we will fight with you. Today is a small step of victory bit the battle is not finished yet and we will keep fighting forward.”
“Although this is a win, make no mistake it’s a soft win,” said Meise at the rally. “We will focus on what we do best and look after the children and families with complex needs.”
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