The Governments of Saskatchewan and Canada have announced an additional $405,000 investment to provide more mobile early learning opportunities for families in rural Saskatchewan with young children. This investment increases the total funding for KidsFirst Regional programming from $823,500 to $1.2 million in 2022-23.
“We travel to communities throughout the province and we bring learning opportunities to children and families under the age of five,” explained Jennifer Sedor. She is the Community Liaison for KidsFirst Regional in southeast Saskatchewan. “We distribute take-home literacy kits, we do story walks, pop-up preschool events; all kinds of fun stuff.”
The money will be distributed to 10 KidsFirst Regional areas across the province, including Moose Jaw-Assiniboia, Kindersley, Tisdale, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Southwest, Regina, Yorkton, Southeast, and Lloydminster-Meadow Lake-the Battlefords. All areas will receive $40,000, except for Lloydminster-Meadow Lake-the Battlefords, which will receive $45,000 due to its larger service area.
"Providing KidsFirst Regional with more funding will ensure that regardless of where children live, they can have access to high-quality early learning opportunities," Education Minister Dustin Duncan said in a written release. "The variety of programs KidsFirst Regional offers will continue to support early childhood development, school readiness goals and positive social engagement in communities across Saskatchewan."
“Given the recent turn in inflation, this is an amazing improvement to the program,” Sedor said of the funding that is earmarked for this corner of the province. “We will be able to definitely reach more kids, have access to more resources. It’s definitely going to help.”
KidsFirst Regional Community Developers work together with local partners and families, such as public health, Early Childhood Intervention Programs, family resource centres, and libraries within smaller urban and rural communities. They provide families with children up to the age of five with activities, events, and access to information that spark creativity, ignite the imagination, and allow every moment to be a teachable one.
“Every child deserves the best start in life,” Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Karina Gould, said in a press release. “The additional funding to KidsFirst programs will help ensure that all families in Saskatchewan have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning opportunities no matter where they live.”
Last year, KidsFirst Regional supported almost 16,000 parents and young children in 343 communities. The program distributed 8,600 early learning kits and backpacks across the province, including activities to enhance all five elements of child development, such as linguistic, social-emotional, cognitive, fine, and gross motor skills.
This $405,000 increase in funding comes from the Canada-Saskatchewan Bi-Lateral Early Learning and Child Care Agreement, 2021-26, which was signed on August 13, 2021. The agreement aims to enhance the quality of Early Years Family Resource Centres, improve access to early learning programming in rural and small cities, and implement a risk-based compliance monitoring system for child care from April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023.
Those who want to learn more about the programs can reach out to KidsFirst Regional through social media. Sedor stated she can keep people updated when they are bringing programming to the community, as they are getting ready to plan activities for the summer.