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Vancouver: A Story of Transition

Vancouver is a big city; rich in diversity. It’s vast geography, range of neighbourhood characteristics and, like many places, complicated history, make it a dynamic landscape for collaborative planning.

Vancouver’s early years “scene” has been in transition since 2014 when the traditional ways of doing work were up-ended, funding re-directed and important questions asked about how to BEST plan for the early years with a city-wide, community approach.


A temporary working group was formed with the purpose to:

  • involve broader community in building a city-wide early years partnership,
  • review information from both local feedback and best-practices, and
  • make recommendations on how to move forward building a Vancouver Early Years Partnership including structure, staffing and operations.

At first Ready to Raise was engaged to provide behind the scenes strategic planning support but it was quickly discovered that there was some significant pre-planning work that was required. To begin with, Vancouver needed a fresh, innovative and neutral “structure” or “entity” to lead a system’s approach to planning.

Spring-boarded from a series of interviews and drawing heavily from the emerging research about community planning, we supported the working group to host a community forum to literally (and creatively) design how Vancouver stakeholders wished to connect, work and plan together. Mixing sticky notes with poster paper with stories, questions and activities, the forum produced both the visuals and rationale behind a new approach.

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The end product is something that everyone (from program worker to CEO) will be able to see themselves reflected in, is clear how they can contribute and will foster synergy and positive change for the early years in Vancouver.

The work, however, is just beginning. Collaboration, planning and systems leadership requires ongoing effort. The next step is for the “structure” to come to life with the passion and extraordinary commitment of the people and organizations who care deeply about children and families.


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