Remarks by Carol Loughrey, board member Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation Inc. at the event in Carlton County, New Brunswick marking the Foundation-Government partnership supporting the development of five new integrated children’s centres.
Mrs. McCain sends her greetings and apologies that she can’t be with us today. The Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation Inc. is pleased to be part of this important and exciting initiative.
Ours is an activist foundation. Our goal is to support and inform public policy: to complement the work of governments and communities – not to replace their role. As both a new foundation and a small one, we know if we are to be helpful, we need to focus our efforts.
Our inspiration comes from the Early Years Studies that Margaret authored with Drs. Fraser Mustard and Stuart Shanker. These seminal works popularized the science of early human development; exposed that individual life chances are established in infancy and demonstrated the need for a modern support system for families.
Improving the life chances of our children requires a greater public commitment in their early years; at least on par with the support we provide school aged children. But new investments must be accompanied by smart decisions about program and system design if the social and economic benefits of investing in early childhood are to be realized.
Families are primary in children’s lives, but families need help as they raise children in these challenging times. To offer this support, we have championed the creation of early childhood and parenting centres, linked to public education and sensitive to local communities.
The children’s centre model combines regulated child care, education, family and community health services into a single, accessible program designed to meet the needs of children and their families from the prenatal period through to the transition to elementary school.
The Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation Inc. is pleased to partner with the Government of New Brunswick in the creation and evaluation of the children’s centres. Research elsewhere shows that this approach serves more families, and serves them better, than the separate delivery silos now in use.
The nine sites involved reflect the urban and rural, Francophone and Anglophone diversity of our province. In Carlton Country, the Early Years Action Group is leading the way, showing how the approach can work in a rural community.
Each site will create its own path based on its unique history, culture, resources and circumstances, but each will add to the growing body of evidence and help inform early years policy and practice. By demonstrating the possible, their efforts can serve as a guide to building a comprehensive, accessible, accountable child and family service system.
On behalf of the Margaret and Wallace McCain Family Foundation Inc. we look forward to supporting your success.