BC budget delivers good news on child support clawback but misses many opportunities to support BC’s children and youth

You have likely heard by now that the BC budget released February 17 eliminated the child support clawback that the First Call Coalition has long campaigned for!

The arguments made in the joint submission by the First Call Coalition, the Single Mothers Alliance of BC and the Community Legal Assistance Society, and the dialogue with the Minister and government staff at the First Call December coalition meeting (including stories from single mothers and BC ACORN) played an important role in convincing government to change this harmful policy and respect these children’s rights.

Also included in the budget was a second important change that the First Call Coalition has been calling for, that parents will no longer be required to assign their rights to pursue child support to the government in order to apply for income assistance.

However, despite this major win, there was little else for children and youth in the budget.

As reported in the Georgia Straight, First Call provincial coordinator Adrienne Montani “would have liked to see the budget include other steps to help B.C. families and youth, including an increase in welfare rates, a funding boost for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, a ‘substantial reinvestment’ in education, and an investment in childcare.”

Our friends at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office were disappointed that the top tax bracket on income over $150,000 will be eliminated (a gift to the richest 2% of British Columbians), while health and education spending failed to keep up with inflation and population growth and BC continues to go without a poverty reduction plan. Find analysis and infographics in 11 things you should know about BC Budget 2015 by CCPA-BC senior economist Iglika Ivanova.

First Call partner the Federation of Community Social Services of BC, in their budget analysis (see Breaking News on this page http://fcssbc.ca/resources/), called the investments in BC’s social care infrastructure “too few and too little to really make a difference in the lives of BC’s most vulnerable citizens,” and concluded that “the capacity to provide good social care to children, youth and families in this province continues to be severely hampered by Budget 2015.”

Read the news highlights:

News 1130: Budget comes at a cost to social programs: CCPA: Nurses, BCSTA, and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond respond to BC budget

Georgia Straight: First Call cheers end of child support clawbacks but still waiting for child-care investment

Vancouver Sun: B.C. delivers ‘fiscal hat trick’ with third consecutive balanced budget

CBC News: B.C. Budget 2015: Wishlist for public education, child poverty, healthcare

CBC News: B.C. Budget: Provincial budget provides meagre benefits for most, says social policy expert

Global News: B.C. ends child-support clawback for poor parents

Breakfast Television: Claw-back removal applauded

Times Colonist: Victoria school officials dismayed by budget cuts during next two years

TheTyee.ca: With Budget, BC Keeps Nickel-and-Diming Less Wealthy Residents

Times Colonist: B.C. budget: Clawbacks of child support payments to end

Times Colonist: Gulf between rich and poor growing in B.C., budget critics say

Globe and Mail: Balanced B.C. budget features higher user fees, little tax relief

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Economic Equality, First Call Actions & Events

Open letter to Premier Christy Clark on child poverty in BC

Last week, the First Call Coalition issued an open letter to Premier Clark and Minister Cadieux about BC’s track record on child poverty. The letter was in response to a letter from Minister of Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux about the 2014 Child Poverty Report Card found at still1in5.ca. We hope it can serve as a tool to counter the talking points the provincial government has been using to justify their inaction on child poverty.

You can read our letter here

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, First Call Actions & Events

Public education in BC under discussion

BC’s Ministry of Education has published an update on BC’s Education Plan (January 2015). This update touches on a range of key areas affecting the future of BC’s schools and education system, such as:

  • curriculum redesign for all grades
  • student assessment under review
  • graduation program redesign
  • greater system focus on trades training
  • anti-bullying training for educators and others
  • teacher regulation, preparation and professional development proposals
  • new data system for collection and use of student information
  • use of the Learning Improvement Fund
  • on-line network upgrades
  • a new K-12 Accountability Framework
  • designation of Innovation Partnership schools
  • changes to the provincial awards program
  • redesigning the parent satisfaction survey

Here is recent discussion on some of these issues from First Call Coalition partner, the BC Teachers’ Federation:

Why do we educate? Are the proposed BC K-12 education directions appropriate for future economies, and for the needs of a diverse and democratic society?, BCTF research report by Charlie Naylor, October 2014

BCTF slide presentation on new data collection system proposed for BC education system

Other resource links:

An article in the Province on the Ministry’s recent education forum with one guest speaker calling for an end to standardized testing

Read the Charter for Public Education, endorsed by First Call, many school districts and other supporters

A paper outlining principles and guidelines for school evaluation and assessment from The Great Schools Project

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Filed under Campaigns and Issues, Resource

BCACCS launches AECDC Knowledge Portal and new Koha online catalogue

Explore the new additions to the BC Aboriginal Child Care Society’s Aboriginal Early Childhood Development and Care (AECDC) Knowledge Portal.

Try out subject guides on topics including Health & Well-being, Parenting & Child Rearing, Special Needs, Literacy & Language Development and Funding Opportunities & Resources. These guides provide access to book titles, online resources, practical tools and up-to-date research on topics relevant to AECDC. All resources included in the AECDC Knowledge Portal are available online or in the BCACCS Resource Centre, where you can use the new online catalogue to find materials.

The BCACCS Resource Centre lends out materials for a minimal cost (return postage + handling) to members throughout British Columbia. Find out more about becoming a member

The BCACCS Resource Centre currently holds over 1,200 print, multimedia, and digital resources concerning Aboriginal Early Childhood Development and Care with a focus on:

  • Child Health and Well-being
  • Children’s Stories and Games
  • Culture and Language
  • Curriculum Development and Teaching Materials
  • Early Childhood Educator Training and Resources
  • Research and Policy Development

Resource Centre Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30 am to 4:30 pm

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Filed under Early Childhood Development, Resource

bc211’s mobile text messaging service and awareness campaign aims to help young people

Residents of the Lower Mainland are now able to access 211’s service by texting 211 on their mobile phones. This technology is intended to respond to the growing challenges that young people are facing, including mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.

Just text 2-1-1 seven days a week between 3:30 and 11 pm. Trained agents will connect young people to the help they need.

For more information visit bc211.ca

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Filed under Resource, Safe and Caring Communities, Youth Transitions

Tri-Cities community profile available online

Tri-Cities is comprised of the municipalities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody and the villages of Anmore and Belcarra. This profile, launched on January 22, 2015, sets out important information about children 12 years and under in these communities, based largely on demographic information from the 2011 Census and National Household Survey.

The electronic version is now available for download at www.tricitiesecd.ca under “Latest News.”

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Filed under Early Childhood Development, Resource, Youth Transitions

Too Hot for Tots! Updated educator’s handbook available for download

An updated version of the Too Hot for Tots!: Educator’s Handbook is now available for downloading.

Frances MacDougall, a clinical nurse who worked for many years on the Burn Unit at BC Children’s Hospital, developed the Too Hot for Tots! (THFT) Program after learning that many caregivers were unaware of burn hazards in their home. The Too Hot for Tots! Program offers training programs and resources for caregivers.

Source: Keeping in Touch BC newsletter

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Filed under Early Childhood Development, Resource, Safe and Caring Communities