Officials in Enderby fear the recession has placed some young children at risk.
The city has been warned that unemployment and limited access to social services has led to families struggling, and some children don’t get enough to eat.
“We have so many people who can’t afford basic food,” said Coun. Earl Shipmaker.
A survey that looks at physical health, social competence, emotional maturity, language and communication indicates the percentage of children vulnerable to one or more of these developmental issues has gone from 26.8 in 2009 to 40 in 2010.
“The results of the 2010 early childhood instrument are alarming to the Early Childhood Development Coalition in Enderby and certainly are going in the wrong direction,” said Lynne Reside, local coalition co-ordinator.
“Our community stakeholders who work directly with children and families are reporting significant increases in children with not enough food or warm clothes, challenging housing situations and families with poor employment prospects. A community like Enderby that already had socio-economic challenges before the recession, is even more challenged when the economy is faltering.”
One of the challenges is a lack of government offices in Enderby, and as a result, residents in need turn to non-profit agencies with limited budgets.
“We often wind up with families in crisis at our door,” said Marlene Mydske, executive director of the Enderby Community Resource Centre.
“With people losing their jobs, we’re seeing a lot of people who are hungry.”
The centre wants to hire a crisis intervention counsellor, but $26,000 a year is required.
“We need to start problem-solving,” said Mydske of the need for a counsellor to work with families.
“We need to help them solve these issues.”
Mydske recently made a presentation to Enderby council about current conditions.
“It made us realize the problem is at a greater level than we understood,” said Mayor Dee Wejr.
Wejr doesn’t believe the city can get directly involved.
“We don’t have tax dollars to help but personally we’re looking at how to help. What can we do as citizens to help?” she said.
Shipmaker says the city may have to lobby government to increase support for social programs.
“This would be good especially during our leadership campaign,” he said referring to Shuswap MLA George Abbott who is seeking to become Liberal leader.
Mydske is urging all residents to become aware of the situation facing their neighbours.
“We’re asking people to talk to their MLA and tell them what’s going on in Enderby,” she said.