Early Years Policy and Programs

MCFD's system of early years supports imageEarly years services are separate and distinct from other services offered by the ministry for young families (e.g. child care, child protection, mental health, or supports for children and youth with special needs), but help to broaden the range of supports available to children and families in B.C.

The system of early years services in B.C. is large and complex, with numerous government ministries, health authorities, school districts, Indigenous governments, municipalities, and hundreds of community organizations sharing the roles and responsibilities of providing supports to families.

Early years services are delivered entirely through contracted organizations. These service organizations are strong advocates for families and children. They aim to respond to families’ unique needs. Early years services can help connect families to the services they need, provide them with effective social supports and networks, and ultimately support the wellness of both a child and family.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development recognizes that young children and families need services in their local community. Throughout the first six years of a child’s life, government-funded services are available across local communities to support family wellness. For example, providing opportunities for parents to connect with other parents, to help children socialize and build strong foundations as they enter the formal school system, or to help parents navigate challenging situations -from parenting skills to understanding their child’s development.

The Early Years Service Framework provides the policy direction for all of the ministry’s early years services. In providing clear policy direction, this framework outlines what early years services are, why they are needed and the goals, principles, service types and terminology that underpin these services.

This information is intended to benefit families, service providers and policy and decision makers.

Request for Proposals

The Ministry of Children and Family Development is strengthening early years services that directly support children and families. The Ministry has 13 Service Delivery Areas within the province, and a Request for Proposals (RFP) for each of those service areas has been issued on the BC Bid website.

The Early Years Services Framework outlines the direct service categories that will guide the re-investment of funding.

Direct services for families with young children include those that support and promote community belonging to address social isolation, supports to families experiencing vulnerabilities, supports to access Indigenous culture and language, support to families to navigate the system of supports and make the direct connections they need and supports children to engage in early years programs.

Read the Frequently Asked Questions on Early Years Services (PDF).

Responses to specific questions received during the Request for Proposals (RFP) procurement process will be posted on the BC Bid site. This is to ensure a fair and transparent procurement process. Proponents to any of the RFPs should regularly review the BCBid site for updates.

Over the past 15 years, government has provided significant investments to local community early years tables to build local capacity. During this time, early years tables across the province have worked as community champions to create strong networks to share information, leverage relationships, development and implement programs, and raise awareness of the importance of the early years.

We have worked with families and partners throughout the province to examine how we support early years services – the programs and services that fall outside of the child care realm and include everything from parent education to navigation support. These supports and services have an important role in helping families achieve and maintain wellness, and in connecting families in need to more targeted supports.

Our work in this area has highlighted two key learnings: the first is that we need to prioritize spending on the programs and services that British Columbia families need and want, and the second is that it is time to revisit how we work with partners to collaboratively plan for these services.

The British Columbia government has invested over $100 million in Success by 6 and Children First initiatives over the last 15 years. Under these programs, community tables, run by coordinators, planned for and invested in projects that addressed local early years needs. After 15 years of community-based planning, we believe it is time to shift our investment to better meet the needs of families today and in the years to come.

The Ministry is shifting its investment currently allocated to community planning in Success by 6 and Children’s First initiatives into more direct programming in communities. The function of early years planning will be assumed by new positions in regional MCFD offices.This new planning will continue to rely on the collaboration of systems leaders at a local level.

The Early Years Professional Development Portal is a pilot project sponsored by the Early Years Policy and Programs in collaboration with BC campus. The portal is an online environment for the promotion of training opportunities across the early years sector in BC.

Workshops, courses, conferences, and seminars may be viewed at earlyyearsbc.ca/ by searching for an event by keyword on a phone, tablet, or computer. 

Approved organizations can post events online or contact earlyyears@bccampus.ca  for more information or to get assistance with posting a large number of training events.

The Science of Early Child Development (SECD) resources narrow the gap between research and practice. These multimedia tools are used for teaching and learning around the world. Users at different levels get engaged by the readings, games, questions, links to reports and websites, and hundreds of videos of experts, children, programs.

Through the BC Site Access, SECD – North American Edition, and SECD - Child Development Primer (in English and French) are available to anyone situated in British Columbia.

Use these resources for:

  • Professional development, by delving into a variety of early years topics
  • Staff training, by selecting topics for staff meetings to encourage critical thinking and discussion
  • Parent education, by showing the video examples to parents/clients
  • Classes and workshops, by projecting and discussing the information in face-to-face sessions
  • Online teaching, by having students access the resources as their “textbook”