Our Society began in 1974, as a project of the Central Okanagan Day Care Society funded through a “Local Initiatives Program Grant (Federal)” and the B.C. Ministry of Human Resources. The project was called the Kelowna Family Day Care Service.
In 1974, the Provincial Ministry of Human Resources approved funding so that a “first coordinator of family day care” could be hired.
At incorporation, (June of 1977) the Society was named “The Kelowna Family Day Care Society”. This reflected the focus of the time; small home-based day care settings giving care to children of working (and predominantly low income) parents. Two staff were hired as home visitors.
The early history was a continuous struggle for funding by a dedicated group of volunteers. Throughout the 1970’s, temporary grants, applications and rejections for funds were common. By late 1976, services included assessing caregivers in their homes, placing children and making support visits.
Parent requests for day care increased markedly in the early 1980’s as did pressure from the Ministry of Human Resources who wanted the Society to service their subsidized clients exclusively. At this time also, the Society moved to mandatory training for all caregivers approved as members. 1982 brought provincial restraint “cutbacks”, which prompted a contract with the Ministry of Human Resources for the Society to provide assessments of non-member homes where care was provided for children under Provincial subsidy.
In 1984, the Society began Bingo operations at Dabbers on Bernard Avenue. This marked a dramatic change in financial status providing a steady weekly income, in addition to the Ministry funding. This enabled the Society to increase staff and improve salaries and working conditions; for example, a full time secretary position was created. Provincial contracts are still negotiated annually, but the Bingo has provided much needed stability
By 1987, the number of caregivers was 130 compared to 16 in 1975. Services expanded also as Social Services contracted the Society in 1987 to conduct social assessments for licensed family day care homes.
In 1989, Victoria announced a new Day Care Support Program to develop family day care referral services in 28 communities in B.C. The Kelowna Family Day Care Society received a contract to provide consulting services; sending the Society’s Executive Director around the Province for a year consulting with Ministry Area Managers and Day Care Societies.
1990’s – A New Mandate
September 3rd, 1991 saw the opening of the new Kelowna Teen and Infant Day Care program. This new program was set up at the request of the Ministry of Social Services and School District # 23. Kiwanis High Noon and the Ministry donated $35,000 for renovations, toys and equipment.
In the fall of 1991, the Society was renamed the “Kelowna Child Care Society,” and expanded its support and referral services to include group day care facilities and preschools. The new name incorporated a broader focus and range of services while retaining the same basic mandate of providing quality care for children.
In May of 1992, the Ministry responsibility for Family Day Care Support Programs transferred from the Ministry of Social Services and Housing (MSSH) to the Ministry of Women’s Equality (MWE). Under MWE the program name was changed to Child Care Support Program (CCSP) to better reflect all child care options. Again reflecting the change to a broader range of services.
In the 1990’s, our agency became computerized and the office environment has continued to develop to reflect the quality and professionalism of the Society’s services.
In 1994, the name of the Teen & Infant Day Care was changed to the Kelowna Young Parents Program. Also the same year, the Ministry of Women’s Equality used a community development process to expand the Child Care Support Programs to a total of 34 in the province.
In February 1997, the Society purchased the strata lot title at 1890 Ambrosi Road and moved the Child Care Support Program to this location.
In the summer of 1997, the Kelowna Young Parents Program acquired a new day care facility at Kelowna Senior Secondary and expanded to 24 infant and toddler spaces.
In October 1997, the name of Child Care Support Program was changed to the Child Care Resource & Referral Program (CCRR) and contracts were regionalized.
In January 1999, the Childhood Connections Society developed and published the first edition of the Okanagan Parent Magazine. The Magazine included articles and information on parenting. 10,000 copies were distributed free of charge to the general community. Revenue from the magazine was generated through the sale of ads.
2000’s – Expansion of Services
In January 2000, the Childhood Connections Society staff became certified through B.C.G.E.U. and the process of Collective Bargaining began.
In April 2002, the Childhood Connections Society implemented the Early Detection Of Development Delay Initiative in our community. The initiative included training for parent and child care providers on how to detect development delay, as well as the creation of the resource booklet “What should Your Child Be Doing?” 25,000 booklets were distributed free to the community.
May 2002, the Society www.kelownachildcare.com web site was developed. The website provided information links for both child care providers and parents.
June 2002, marks 25 years that the Society has provided services to our community.
In January 2003, the Society hired Acromedia to begin the work of developing a comprehensive web based child care referral service as part of the Societies current web site. The new web service would allow parents to do child care referrals and access information about child care on line. The child care data based included a listing of all licensed child care providers included in our service area.
In April 2003, an Early Childhood Development Facilitator was hired to implement the new Central Okanagan Family Resource Program. This program was made possible as a result of funding the Society received from the Early Childhood Development Branch of the Ministry of Children and Family Development. To facilitate the development of this new program a partnership was formed between the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and Okanagan Families. The purpose of the program was to provide mobile outreach Parent/child drop in services to families with young children in a variety of locations through the Central Okanagan. Parents were also able to access a lending library for toys, book and play equipment as well as parent education opportunities.
In the fall of 2003, the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services contracted with the Childhood Connections Society to print and distribute 22,000 copies of the resource booklet “What Should Your Child Be Doing” to 45 CCRR Programs across the province.
April 2004, the Child Care Resource & Referral Program’s mandate was revised to include support, resources and outreach services for parents, in addition to services provided to child care providers. The ministry implements a new CCRR Program Standards Manual as part of the Contract Service Agreement with the ministry.
May 2004, MCFD requests that the CCS Executive Director participate on a working committee in Victoria to develop a provincial wide web site that would have child care search links to licensed child care programs across the province. The first regional website www.childcarechoices.ca was developed by the ministry for CCRR Programs. The website was linked to the Childhood Connections Society website.
September 2004, the first Collective Agreement with BCGEU expiring in 2006 was ratified.
In October of 2004, all the computers in the CCS office and Young Parent Program were replaced and software updated.
In February 2005, Promark Design was hired to revise and enhance our current CCS website.
In March 2006, the resource booklet the “Early Learning & Development Framework for 3 to 5 year olds” was created by the Preschool Partnership Sub Committee of School District # 23. The writers of this document included CCS, as well as other key Early Childhood Education consultants. The publication was distributed to child care providers and kindergarten teachers in our community.
April 2006, the CCRR expanded their mandate to include a leadership role in assisting parents with the child care subsidy application procedure. CCRR Programs were also included in the provinces list of eligible guarantors.
In September 2006, due to increasing travel and location costs for the Central Okanagan Family Resource Drop in program, the FRP Program relocated to the Boys and Girls Club Martin Avenue Community Center.
In January 2007, due to the cancellation March 31st 2007 of the federally funded Early Learning and Child Care Agreement,, there was a 37% cut in the operating budget of all provincial CCRR programs effective April 1st 2007.
The second Collective Agreement with BCGEU is ratified January 2007, expiring March 31st 2010.
June 2007, marks 30 years that the Society has provided services to our community.
In December 2007, the Central Okanagan Family Resource Program is selected as the winner of the “Distinguished Service Award for Quality Programming” amongst 22 nominated FRP programs across BC.
In 2008, the Society office is renovated to add more shelving and storage space to accommodate the toy and equipment lending library. Training is now held off site.
In 2017, the YPP Program was transferred over to the YMCA Okanagan as the board and broader community saw the YMCA as a better fit for providing child care than CCS
In 2018, CCS began its journey to rebrand from Kelowna Child Care Society to Childhood Connections – Okanagan Family & Childcare Society (official new name came to be in Nov. 2018). The rebranding also saw the Society get a new logo, and become connected to Social media with a presence on Facebook and Instagram, and work began on a new website. This new method of engagement saw the Society reaching more families and the user-ship of the library increased significantly.