The Child Safety Initiative is a unique partnership powered by the Paul Docksteader Foundation, United Way Southern Interior BC, KGH Foundation and Central Okanagan Foundation that provides new car seats to families in financial need.

The car seats are distributed to families throughout the Southern Interior of BC thanks to a network of community partners who provide social services in these regions.

The Need

BCAA estimates as many as five per cent of children in British Columbia – roughly 23,000 – don’t use an approved child car seat when travelling by car, despite the clear advantages to using one. The unfortunate reality is that some kids go unprotected because their family simply cannot afford the expense of a car seat. Family poverty is a complex issue and affects 1 in 5 children in British Columbia.

United Way believes that no family should have to put their child’s safety at risk because of limited finances.

5 people standing in front of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs Vernon with a carseat box.

“I love to get involved in local projects where I can see instantly the difference being made, especially for vulnerable families and kids. The United Way’s vision of making a positive difference in the communities in which we live is one which I echo at our Foundation. We are thrilled to support this collective action initiative which will ease the burden for so many struggling local families with little ones.”

– Paul Docksteader, Paul Docksteader Foundation 

4 members of the Canadian forces and several car seat boxes stand around a military vehicle with 2 children standing inside.

The Program

  • The Child Safety Initiative launched in 2015 as a partnership lead by United Way.
  • The goal is to provide convertible car seats to families in financial need – the seats are free to families, funded by the program partners and sponsors.
  • Car seats are distributed to families in need through 20+ United Way charity partners in local & rural communities across the Southern Interior of BC, including Lake Country, Kelowna, West Kelowna, the Westbank First Nation, Summerland, Penticton, Oliver, Keremeos, Vernon, Lumby, Nakusp, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous and Revelstoke.
  • Demand is increasing – seats were allocated to families in a matter of days in 2019. BCAA estimates that 5% of children in BC (roughly 23,000) do not use approved child car seats due to financial difficulty.
  • The initiative started with 84 seats delivered in 2015 and has grown to 169 car seats delivered in 2019.
  • We purchase Evenflo convertible car seats that adapt from a rear-facing infant seat, to forward-facing harnessed car seat, and belt-positioning booster. They grow as the child grows from newborns, from toddler years through to children weighing 100 lbs.
  • In 2020, the initiative was enhanced thanks to additional funding from the Government of Canada Emergency Community Support Fund to include baby care essentials such as diapers, wipes and formula.
  • The local agencies assess the needs of applicants and distribute to the families. Those families interested in inquiring about a car seat need to contact their local community distributing agency directly.

The next round of deliveries will be in August 2021. Read through the 2020 media release here.

5 people stand with several carseat boxes in front of a moving truck with a United Way banner taped to it. One, a child, covers their face with their hands.

Community and Corporate Partners

The 2020 Child Safety Initiative is a unique collaboration supported by the Paul Docksteader Foundation, Central Okanagan Community Foundation, and the KGH Foundation, all coordinated by the United Way Southern Interior BC. This enables the delivery of over 170 car seats to all regions that we support.

Thanks to other delivery and logistics partners, Costco Wholesale Kelowna provides car seats at a discounted rate and IRL Idealease provides a 5 ton truck for delivery throughout the region. Secure-Rite provides storage for the car seats. In 2020, the West Kelowna Warriors pitched in to help deliver car seats as well.

Distribution Charity Partners

These charity partners act as distribution centres in each community and refer low-income families to the program.

7 people stand in and around the back of a moving truck with several carseat boxes and a United Way banner.
4 adults and a child in a stroller stand in front of a staircase with 2 car seat boxes.
4 people stand inside a doorway, surrounded by several car seat boxes.

North Okanagan – Shuswap:

  • Enderby & District Community Services Society
  • Golden Community Resource Society
  • North Okanagan Friendship Centre (Vernon)
  • North Okanagan Youth Family Services
  • Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs (Vernon and Armstrong)
  • Okanagan Indian Band
  • Shuswap Children’s Association (Salmon Arm)
  • Stepping Stone Childcare Centre (Nakusp)
  • Vernon Family Resource Centre
  • Whitevalley Community Resource Centre (Lumby)

Central Okanagan:

  • Central Okanagan Family Hub (Rutland)
  • KCR – Community Resources (Kelowna)
  • Kelowna General Hospital Perinatal Unit
  • Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
  • Lake Country Health Planning
  • Mamas for Mamas (Kelowna)
  • NOW Canada (Kelowna)
  • Peachland Wellness Centre
  • SHARE Society (Kelowna)
  • Westbank First Nation Community Services

South Okanagan – Similkameen:

  • Desert Sun Resource and Counselling Centre (Oliver & Osoyoos)
  • Lower Similkameen Community Services Society (Keremeos)
  • Lower Similkameen Indian Band (Cawston)
  • OneSky Community Resources (Penticton & Area)
  • Penticton Indian Band
  • South Okanagan Women in Need Society (Penticton)

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