A key commitment in the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, Flying Start help families with young children living in disadvantaged areas by providing: free quality part-time childcare for 2-3 year olds, an enhanced health visiting service, access to parenting programmes and access to language and play sessions.
The expansion will mean more children across Wales will be able to take full advantage of this life-changing initiative.
At a conference in the Millennium Stadium, Gwenda Thomas shared her vision for the future of the early years initiative.
Addressing delegates, the Deputy Minister said:
“These are tough times for families and we must prioritise the needs of the poorest and protect the most vulnerable. The Programme for Government is clear that there are improvements we need to make on key outcomes for children. Flying Start is just one of our policies and programmes to achieve this.”
“This is why we have made the commitment to double the number of children benefitting from Flying Start. It is one of our top five pledges for a fairer future. Our commitment is clearly reflected in our draft budget where we have earmarked an additional £55 million over the next three years to support expansion. This significant uplift in the funding, particularly in the current economic climate, marks our absolute commitment to preventative services in the early years.”
“I am absolutely committed to ensuring that our investment in Flying Start delivers the outcomes that we all wish to see.”
“We are agreed, across Government, that we must adopt the most intelligent approach to targeting in order to ensure we reach our target population. Whilst we remain committed to geographical targeting, the basis by which we will target the expansion of Flying Start will shift.”
“It will focus on concentrations of families with 0-3 year olds living in Income Benefit households across Wales. This is more effective than relying too heavily on Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation data, which includes 0-18 year olds, or free school meals data, for which our target population is not eligible.”
“I am also very keen to introduce a small element of outreach work. This will enable us to bring some of those most in need of Flying Start services into the programme.”
Gwenda Thomas added:
“The increased investment is an exciting opportunity for us to build on all this good work. We can make a real difference for a much larger number of families and children. We can help change their lives.”
“We must continue to strive to improve the quality of our services. If we do this we can improve outcomes for Flying Start families across Wales and ensure that they really do have a Flying Start in life.”