The Child Safety Initiative is a unique partnership powered by the Paul Docksteader Foundation, United Way British Columbia, 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.

“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 

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.
  • In 2021, United Way expanded the Child Safety Initiative to include school supplies and backpacks. 300 backpacks were distributed to local families.
  • In 2021, United Way delivered over 200 car seats and 50 baby wellness items to 45 distribution partners across 17 communities in the Southern Interior. This was a 30% increase from the previous years that was made possible by the support and generosity of the community.

The next round of deliveries will be in 2022. Read through the 2019 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 2021 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 British Columbia. This enables the delivery of over 200 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 2021, Norval Rentals provided equipment to help deliver car seats as well as Rogers organized a school drive campaign and fundraiser to procure schools supplies.

Distribution Charity Partners

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

North Okanagan – Shuswap:

  • Community Connections Society (Revelstoke)
  • Eagle Valley Community Support Society
  • 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)
  • Shuswap Indian Band
  • Revelstoke Child Care Resource and Referral
  • Revelstoke United Church
  • Stepping Stone Childcare Centre (Nakusp)
  • Sorrento Centre
  • Vernon Family Resource Centre
  • Whitevalley Community Resource Centre (Lumby)

Central Okanagan:

  • Central Okanagan Family Hub (Rutland)
  • Childhood Connections
  • Connect Counselling & Therapy Society
  • Hands in Service
  • Hope for the Nations
  • Karis Support Society
  • KCR – Community Resources (Kelowna)
  • Kelowna General Hospital Perinatal Unit
  • Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
  • Lake Country Food Assistance Society
  • Lake Country Health Planning
  • Mamas for Mamas (Kelowna)
  • NOW Canada (Kelowna)
  • Reach out Youth Counselling Society
  • Salvation Army (Kelowna & West Kelowna)
  • SHARE Society (Kelowna)
  • Starbright Children’s Development Centre
  • The Bridge Youth and Family Services
  • Westbank First Nation Community Services
  • YMCA of Okanagan Association

South Okanagan – Similkameen:

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

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