BC United leader Kevin Falcon is urging the NDP government to visit Starbright Children’s Development Centre to see firsthand the ‘incredible things’ it’s doing for kids in Kelowna and area.
Falcon visited the centre Thursday (April 13) to meet with administration and staff and hear their concerns after the NDP pulled funding for the not-for-profit organization earlier this year.
“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing,” said Falcon. “I want the NDP government to not just provide a stay of execution for two years but to say we’re going to keep this going because it’s a good thing for the community.”
In January, funding for Starbright was diverted by the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to a new pilot program of Family Connection Centres (FCC), including one in Kelowna, leaving hundreds of families unsure exactly how services will be provided for their children.
“What I’ve heard is just how difficult it’s been,” added Falcon. “They’ve lost staff because of the uncertainty, families and parents have been traumatized, because their kids have been getting exceptional service here.”
Falcon had this message for the NDP.
“Please come and take some time to listen to the parents and the people that work here and understand the great work that they’ve done for 65 years in this community. Don’t shut down what’s working.”
Starbright was set to close at the end of June. Due to pressure from parents, the community, city councillors and local MLAs, the organization was given a two-year extension to remain open.
The BC United leader added, should his party eventually form government, it would be 100 per cent committed to funding Starbright.
“We have been fighting the NDP from day one when they announced this hub model. We need to get them to move away from this idea that government knows best.”
Starbright Executive Director, Dr Rhonda Nelson told Capital News that having Falcon visit was affirmation for the board, staff and families.
“This was amazing…that someone in government would come and actually see our facility and see what we do and be able to engage in discussion.”
Starbright has not heard anything further from MCFD since its contract was extended.
‘We are clinging to hope right now because we want to be here to serve our families and the words that were spoken today were very reassuring,” added Nelson.