With files from Rebecca Dyok, MyCaribooNow

Success by 6 was launched more than 15 years ago after the Ministry of Children and Family Development announced funding towards a new initiative. Through negotiations for the entire province, a branch of United Way called Success by 6 was created with Credit Unions of BC, United Way, and the Ministry serving as partners.

The program is an early childhood development initiative in over 300 communities in North America, including Prince George, Quesnel, Mackenzie, and the Robson Valley communities.

Money was then invested and distributed to each of the United Ways in their region to support early years from 0 to 6, community coordination, family support, and on the ground direct service programs. A second stream of funding, called Children First, was also launched in some of the regions.

“That all turned upside down last year when the announcement came that they were no longer going to be doing family support, family coordination, and only direct service programs,” said Roberta Squire, CEO of United Way Northern BC.

“It came as quite a shock to a lot of the communities. A lot of puzzling and unanswered questions still to this date, and not a lot of knowledge or information being passed because I think they’re still trying to figure it out.”

Serving north of Quesnel to the Yukon-Alberta Border, Squire said they carried both streams of funding-Success by 6 and Children First.

“I have 28 early year coordinators and some of them have been here the entire decade or more that are now being laid off,” she said.

“We have 15 plus years of relationship with indigenous groups, indigenous community tables that take quite a while to cultivate and to develop that trust that are now going to be dismantled because there is no engagement with them with the new program, which is causing quite a bit of an uproar in our communities and unfortunately a sour taste in the mouths of our indigenous partners because they’re not being consulted.”

The B.C. government estimates it has invested over $100 million in Success by 6 and Children First initiatives over the last 15 years.