Last week, the Millbrook Family Centre which operates out of the Old Millbrook School received unexpected good news. They learned that their precarious financial position was about to enjoy dramatic improvement, thanks to funding provided by the provincial and federal governments.
The organization’s activities are sustained through funds generated from memberships, private and corporate sources, government grants, fund raising activities, and volunteer hours. As reported last September, organizers have been concerned about the future of this local family resource due to changes in the provincial Early Years Child program funding that seemed to threaten the limited but crucial government funding that kept their doors open.
The Millbrook location has been tapped to become one of Ontario’s EarlyON Child and Family Centres, benefitting from a significant new provincial investment in Ontario’s early years system. Under this umbrella, their organization will receive increased funding flowing through Social Services department of the City of Peterborough which will allow the organization to refresh its space, invest in some new furniture and inquiry-based toys. They will also be in a position to extend their operating hours, develop new programs for existing clientele and expand their program to older children beginning this spring.
Through the integration of four early years programs into a single program, the province intends to support high-quality early years programming across the province. The changes are designed to support parents and caregivers by providing access to high quality services that support them in their role as their children’s first teachers, to enhance their well-being and enrich their knowledge about early learning and development.
Incorporated in 2001, the Old Millbrook School Family Centre is a community based, non-profit agency dedicated to the care, nurturing, and well-being of local children and their families. It offers a wide range of free programs for youngsters and their caregivers, including drop-in gym and music activities at the Old Millbrook School as well as a music and movement program at Centennial Place. These activities are designed to stimulate children and give caregivers the opportunity to get together and support each other.
The organization operates with a volunteer Board of Directors consisting of parents, teachers and other local residents who oversee and take an active role in the centre’s operations.
The Millbrook centre has worked closely with the City of Peterborough and Peterborough Family Resource Centre and credits this new funding in part to the overwhelming support of the community that was articulated through a survey commissioned last year by The City of Peterborough. Respondents described the Millbrook programs and staff as superb, saying they offered professional supervision with plenty of patience, and one respondent suggested that the program was a factor in her decision to locate to the area.
Building local partnerships with organizations including the local library, Centennial Place long term care home and the Community Garden is way board members will put a local stamp on their programming. Above all, the enhanced centre will ensure that local youngsters have opportunities to learn through play in a supportive environment that helps them develop, and provides parents and caregivers opportunities to strengthen their relationships with their children.
The only person for whom this announcement is not good news is Moyra Seabright runs the successful Stay n’ Play program for the Family Centre and has worked there for more than 15 years and has been given her notice.
With the aggressive deadline to get their extended programming operational, board members are working diligently to determine how to best utilize their new-found resources. While they are actively planning now, they are seeking direction from the community in order to best address local needs. During their Family Day event on February 19th, they hope to hear more from community members. Feedback received will help them make local decisions in their programming to best serve the needs of children and families in and around Cavan Monaghan. KG