A non-profit organization that delivers a wide range of services to families in Saanich and beyond is expanding its footprint both in the digital and in the analog world.
The Victoria Early Years Centre, run out of the Saanich Neighbourhood Place in Saanich’s Pearkes Recreation Centre, has officially launched its new website, South IslandChild.ca.
Joanne Gordon, early years community engagement co-ordinator for Saanich Neighbourhood Place, said the site lists information about more than 200 centres, drop-in and support programs, and resources available to families between Port Renfrew and the [Saanich] Peninsula.
“This is a really exciting website because it is very hard for families to figure out where they can go for resources and information, especially if they live in different parts of the south Vancouver Island.”
Families who may live in Colwood and drop off their children in View Royal before heading to Downtown Victoria for work may not always know where they can find resources if they are travelling across so many different boundaries.
“Families’ lives do not really correspond to those,” she said. “It makes it hard for families to know where to even look, because they don’t even know that those boundaries for services exist.”
Service providers, she added, are also struggling to navigate those boundaries.
Users of the site can search for information by various sociological categories including age, marital status, sexual orientation, family status; specific topics such as child care, finances or legal help; or location. Users can save the information for future access or print it. The site also features an extensive calendar of events.
“Time and time again we see families struggling to find opportunities to connect with each other, find resources and access services,” said Colleen Hobson, executive director of Saanich Neighbourhood Place.
The site also continues to accept information from providers who offer services.
Work on the project began two years ago and following a soft launch, the site launched officially Monday with several parents, children, and representatives from service providers attending.
“Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Gordon. “I’ve had families take a test run, some whose kids [are now] school aged,” she said, noting that some parents were rather sad the site did not exist when their kids were younger.
Saanich Neighbourhood Place also confirmed Monday that it will open a satellite office in the historic Royal Oak Schoolhouse that previously hosted Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe that closed earlier this year.
Corinne Bains, manager of children’s programs, have begun to move resources into the location, from where it will offer drop-in support. The non-profit agency plans to make a formal announcement in the fall.