FamilyPoint speaks to Flying Start to find out more about what they do.
Can you tell us about your service?
Flying Start is the Welsh Government’s flagship Early Years programme for families with children who are under four years of age. It targets and operates in some of the most disadvantaged communities across Wales.
We supported 38,269 children and their families last year.
What do families get most out of your service?
Free, quality part-time childcare for 2-3 year olds
Flying Start provides high quality childcare. Parents of all eligible 2-3 year olds are offered childcare for 2 and a half hours a day, 5 days a week for 39 weeks.
An enhanced health visiting service
There must be one full time equivalent Health Visitor per 110 children aged under 4. This is to ensure delivery of intensive support to children and their families.
Access to parenting support
Formal parenting support is offered to every family with a Flying Start child. At least once a year this is offered. Parenting support can be in groups or one-to-one in the home. It can be a mix of formal and informal support depending on the family’s needs.
Every family in a Flying Start area should have ongoing access to an appropriate language and play group. Additionally, more targeted SLC support can be provided where there is a need for it.
The programme is making a real difference to the lives of Flying Start families. Parents identify a range of improvements in their children’s development. This includes talking and communication, reading and counting, practical issues and behaviour and attitude. In addition, almost all parents feel Flying Start has a positive impact on their families’ overall level of well-being.
What do you do that families may not be aware of?
All 2-3 year olds living in Flying Start areas can access the free childcare on offer. This is regardless of whether or not their parents are in employment.
What’s more, the support offered through Flying Start to help children learn to talk is available to all children. Families should talk to their Flying Start Health Visitor if they have any concerns over their child’s speech or ability to talk.
Finally, there’s an element of outreach work which allows Local Authorities to deliver all elements of Flying Start to a small percentage of their population who live outside of designated Flying Start Areas.
What advice would you like to give to families in Wales?
Even if families are not in a Flying Start area, they should make contact with their local Family Information Service (FIS). FIS can provide free, impartial help and advice tailored to the individual needs of families.
Each Local Authority in Wales has a FIS. They can be contacted via post, email or telephone call. Also all FIS have a website. The Welsh Government website and the FamilyPoint website has contact details for each local FIS. There is also a national FIS helpline – 0300 123 77 77. Local FIS can also signpost families to useful programmes which may be able to assist them.
If there are any other problems your family is having, then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.