Pearson Road Elementary principal Rob Zoppi talked last month about the Central Okanagan Family Hub at the launch of the A Lot for a Little campaign aimed at trying to the service for immigrant, Indigenous and low-income families open. (Contributed)

School district lends voice to Family Hub funding call

Board chairwoman urges province to reverse its decision to pull funding for hub two years early

The Central Okanagan Public Schools say a unique service in Kelowna that helps families will be forced to close its doors at the end of the year because the province pulled its funding just three years into a five-year commitment.

School board chair Moyra Baxter has written to the province urging it to provide a sustainable grant to help keep the Central Okanagan Family Hub open.

In her letter to Education Minister Rob Fleming, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy, Baxter said the district strives to make sure each student can succeed in the classroom and go on to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

“However, we know that not every family has the capacity to take full advantage of the opportunities our community provides,” wrote Baxter.

“Fortunately, the Central Okanagan Family Hub operates within one of our schools, providing a barrier‐free welcome, helping families discover their needs, and connecting families to services so that children can learn and grow.”

READ MORE: Saving the Central Okanagan Family Hub with “a lot for a little”

But that model—which the school district considers a success after the hub saw more than 12,000 visitors in its first three years of operation—cannot continue after the province reallocated the last two years of the hub’s $55,000 annual grant to a different service provided by the Okanagan YMCA.

The hub, which Baxter said operates on a minimal total budget of just $140,000 a year, helps clients including newcomers to Canada, Indigenous families, single parents and grandparents raising children with a raft of free services and the opportunity to connect with others in similar situations.

“Beyond connecting people to crucial health and community services, the caring and culturally sensitive staff uses the space directly to integrate people into the community, provide childcare while parents access programs, and teach essential skills to both children and adults,” said the school district chair in her letter.

“The Central Okanagan Family Hub is a unique service our community can ill afford to lose. We know that to successfully support and educate a child we must ensure the welfare of the family, and the Family Hub has three years of helping more than 12,000 visitors which demonstrates its success in that endeavour.”

In addition to the school district’s call to reinstate the funding, local MLAs Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson have also publicly called on the government to do the same.

A community campaign, tagged as A Lot For A Little, has been started by Kelowna Community Resources to try and raise $100,000 to keep the hub open.

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