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More early childhood education seats coming to Prince George Native Friendship Centre

Aboriginal Head Start program helps Indigenous children stay connected to culture
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The Native Friendship Centre on 3rd Avenue. (via Hanna Petersen)

A program designed to better understand Indigenous culture in a child's early developing years will soon offer more seats in Prince George.

The Native Friendship Centre will be adding 28 more spaces for local families wishing to be a part of Aboriginal Head Start (AHS), which incorporates culturally-based early learning and care into its program.

There will be 16 seats for children between the ages of three and five, while the remaining 12 will be reserved for infants and toddlers.

The announcement has Prince George as one of 30 B.C. communities to receive more AHS program seating, totalling more than 600 across the province.

“Aboriginal Head Starts offer immediate supports to families who want culturally-based early learning and care programs for their children,” said B.C. Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy in a news release. “Not only is this funding helping to expand existing programs and services, it also includes building childcare into the AHS model, something that families and communities have been asking for and need.”

The seats are made possible through a $30 million investment last year via the provincial and federal governments in partnerships with the AHS Association of B.C. and First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).

The funding will be distributed over the next three years and each organization is using the funds to leverage existing supports, while also creating new centres to improve services to Indigenous families.

For example, Vanderhoof will be building a new AHS centre with the Carrier Sekani Family Services that will bring 24 spaces for Indigenous children.

There will be 16 for kids between three and five years old and eight for infants and toddlers.

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