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Integrating local knowledge
and expertise for success.


The United Way of the Lower Mainland’s Avenues of Change (UWAOC) initiative is a unique bottom-up, community-driven initiative that integrates local knowledge and expertise into programs and projects that aim to achieve a common objective of preparing more children to succeed by the start of school.

Due to a number of factors including socioeconomic status, health, and vulnerability scores on the Early Development Instrument (EDI), the Coquitlam River neighbourhood was selected as a pilot site for the UWAOC initiative.

UWAOC is a place-based and responsive initiative, built on implementing projects, strategies, and activities based on research into early childhood development and wisdom gathered from the local community. Research proves that without additional support and care, children who demonstrate these vulnerabilities are more likely to experience future challenges in school and society.

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Continue to pave the path for social innovation.

Since the inception of this UWAOC project in 2013, there were, numerous accomplishments and achievements made throughout the different phases of the project. Some of these activities include networking tables, park-clean ups, and the #HiNeighbour Campaign. The UWAOC Coquitlam River Advisory Committee engaged the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) and the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) to evaluate their progress towards achieving the outcomes outlined in the Improving Child Well-Being Theory of Change (ToC). The Evaluation Team evaluated foundational community capacity, the preconditions and medium-term outcomes with a focus on the following theme areas:
(1) Physical and Natural Environments;
(2) Institutional Environment; and
(3) Social Connectedness.

Some of the results are displayed below. We would like to thank the dedication and passion in our network of partner organizations within the Tri-Cities who, over the last three years have been committed to the shared goal of creating a neighbourhood in which children and families will thrive. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the courageous support of our funder, United Way of the Lower Mainland, who continues to pave the path for social innovation and responsive services within the Tri-Cities.


Tri-Cities Needs Assessment 2017


In May 2016, Westcoast Family Centres Society convened a Child Care Panel in an effort to better understand the child care needs of the Tri-Cities community. This project was a key part of the Coquitlam River United Way Avenues of Change initiative. The first phase of the project brought together families, service providers, schools, businesses, governments and other stakeholders in a community engagement process. This process identified the difficulty families’ face in finding affordable, high quality child care in their neighborhood.

Westcoast Family Centres Society contracted Jane Beach and Associates and Barry Forer from the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at UBC to conduct this assessment. The primary purpose of the child care survey was to collect basic demographic information about the households in the Tri-Cities with children 0-8 years old, and detailed information on respondents’ child care use, needs, and preferences. There were a total of 988 valid respondents, representing 1,550 children aged from 0 to 8 years old in the Tri-Cities community.

Respondents provided their views and opinions of their child care arrangements: 46.7% Parental Care, 39.6% Licensed Care and 13.7% other Child Care Arrangements. The results of the report provided a brief understanding of the child care needs of the community. Attention to quality was identified as an important attribute towards the expansion of licensed child care alongside cost, enrollment process, and hours of operation. The report also identified a distinct need for respondents who have been in Canada for less than 10 years. It was clear from the report the need for more dialogue and collective willingness of planners and key stakeholders is required to address the lack of accessible and affordable child care within the Tri-Cities.