Central Okanagan 

Early Years Partnership

Amy Geistlinger - Lake Country School Trustee candidate

Q 1: If elected, what will you do to reduce the rising vulnerability among young children in your community?

If elected school trustee, I would like to join the “Early Years Partnership” committee in order to learn more about the Early Years programs and how I can support them. Having young children myself, I am very aware of the significance of loving care at this vulnerable age. I could see myself:

1. Advocating for more funding for the “Strong Start” program and looking into creating a “Strong Start” centre at or near both Ellison Elementary and Black Mountain Elementary Schools. (There is already a thriving “Strong Start” centre at École Peter Greer Elementary in Lake Country.)

2. Looking into having enhanced childcare funding for low income families and possibly introducing government funding for parents who desire to care for their children at home (ie. stay-at-home parents).

3. Supporting current and new programs for babies/toddlers and their caregivers within the District and within our local communities.

Q 2: If elected, what will you do to help increase the number of quality child care spaces in our community?

First of all, I would expand the definition of “quality child care spaces” to include ‘day homes’ (caregivers who work out of their homes to provide care for children with working parents). I know many Moms who thrive in the role of mother and caregiver and, because of this, have started ‘day homes’ to care for children in addition to their own. I would love to see more qualified and loving parents opening quality ‘day homes’ in our local communities, thus providing children with a lower teacher-to-child ratio in a calm at-home setting.

Q 3: If elected, will you endorse the $10aDay Child Care Plan?

I would need to know more about this program and its benefits. My first concern is for the welfare of our children. I do believe that low-income parents should have access to financial assistance for childcare, be it caring for their children at home if they so desire, or having their children cared for at a childcare facility.

Q 4: If elected, will you advocate for free access to public transit and recreation services for children and reduced transit fares for low-income individuals, families and seniors?

Currently in Kelowna, “an adult customer can bring up to four children (12 years and under) on board for free. Children must get on and off at the same stop as the fare-paying customer” (BCTransit Kelowna). I would definitely be in favour of a program that would also allow low-income individuals and seniors to apply for reduced transit fares.

Q 5: The municipal government has a responsibility to avoid contributing to the problem of low-wage poverty. If elected will you commit to adopting a living wage policy requiring the municipality (or school district) to pay a living wage to both it’s employees and contract staff?

I contacted the superintendent of SD23, Kevin Kaardal, to inquire about the wages of SD23 employees. He assured me that our school district employees all make at least $21/hour. There are two part-time positions (noon-hour supervisors and library assistants) that receive $20.72/hour, but the 4% vacation pay they receive bumps their wage up to over $21/hour. Good news!

Q 6: Homelessness and housing affordability is a regional issue that has “spillover effects” from one community to another. If elected, how will you work with the City of Kelowna to support the Journey Home Strategy at a regional level?

As a school trustee, a large part of our role is hearing from students and families in our electoral areas. If homelessness and housing affordability is affecting their well-being, we could partner with or be in dialogue with local government to support the “Journey Home Strategy” and other local affordable housing projects.

Q 7: If elected, will you participate in and support the Central Okanagan Poverty Reduction Committee - both with financial and staff resources - to develop a local poverty reduction strategy? Please describe what you see as your City’s role.

If elected school trustee, I will do my best to care for the students and families in the district. I will work on their behalf to ensure quality, safe educational experiences and environments. I will work to understand their needs and concerns. I will work to create policies that will be in their best interest, and I will participate in committees that will see that they are feeling supported and well taken care of. I would like to be on the Central Okanagan Poverty Reduction Committee.

Working Together on Early Childhood Development

 in the Central Okanagan

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