More children are being referred for development issues and less women smoke during pregnancy, but the poverty rate among Central Okanagan children continues to climb.
Some 23 per cent of the region’s near 12,000 children live in poverty, up significantly from the 20.6 per cent of 2006.
Tuesday afternoon, with the release of the 2012 State of the Child Report, organized by Community Action Toward Children’s Heath and delivered on National Child Day, municipal leaders throughout the area got a moment to explain what each area is doing for local kids.
“What’s so good about CATCH …is the fact that now all children are important,” said Kelowna’s Mayor Walter Gray.
“Everything we don’t learn before the age of six is going to really handicap our ability to become complete and whole and give back later on in life,” he said, explaining that CATCH has really opened regional leaders’ eyes to the importance of early childhood development.
Information from the City of Kelowna on what the community is doing to support the region’s children emphasized the amount of parks space and amenities on offer, like the bikes lanes. The Mayor of Peachland pointed to that community’s beaches, skatepark and lifeguard service as its distinct contributions and the Mayor of Lake Country informed the crowd his entire community acts as a life guards.
All frivolity aside, the report proved much of the same from previous years, with a notable difference in the number of children now being referred for intervention on development issues and a significant increase in the number of daycare spots.
Where only 404 children were referred to the Central Okanagan Child Development Association in 2008, some 597 children were referred in 2011-12. There has also been a 35 per cent increase in the number of daycare spots over five years ago—now 3886 over 3094—which is very good news for this traditionally beleaguered sector and working parents.
That said, several pages of explanation on interventions First Nations children in the region have available and positive statistics in smoking cessation during pregnancy, could not overcome the disturbing statistic that caps the report.
Some 23 per cent of Central Okanagan children are living below the poverty line and 27 per cent of children in the are still considered vulnerable upon entering school, or likely to struggle in the school system.