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Flagship Flying start programme exceeds roll-out target

14 Jun 2023 3 minute read
Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan and Plaid Cymru Designated Member Siân Gwenllian with children and staff at Cylch Meithrin nursery in Abergele. Picture: Welsh Government.

The Welsh Government has exceeded its target for the first phase of expanding its flagship Flying Start programme.

The expansion of the programme is part of a phased expansion of early years provision to all two-year-olds in Wales, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Welsh-medium provision.

This is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru.

The first phase, which began in September 2022, aimed to deliver all four elements of the Flying Start programme, including childcare for two to three-year-olds, to an additional 2,500 children aged 0 to four.

Figures from local authorities show that by the end of March 2023, 3,178 children had been reached, meaning 600 more children than planned have benefited from the support Flying Start provides.

The number of Welsh-medium childcare places taken up has also increased over the same period of time.

Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: “We know high quality learning and care in early years supports child development and plays an important role in preparing children for school.

“So I am delighted even more children have been able to benefit from the first phase of the expansion of Flying Start than we originally aimed.

“This is a testament to the work of local authorities, NHS and the childcare sector to extend Flying Start services and to provide high-quality provision – particularly in those communities facing the greatest challenges.

“We are making excellent progress delivering on our Programme for Government commitment to expand funded childcare to two-year-olds.

“Our Childcare Offer also provides 30 hours of funded childcare a week for up to 48 weeks a year for three and four-year-olds of eligible parents, which includes parents in education or training – compared to 38 weeks of the year in England, which is for working parents only.”

Welsh-medium childcare

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles added: “Many children start their learning journey in a childcare setting and it is very heartening to see that take up of Welsh-medium childcare places has tripled.

“Welsh belongs to us all, children learning and enjoying our language from an early start benefits them enormously.

“As a government we are committed to reaching a million Welsh speakers by 2050 and encouraging new learners is crucial to achieving this. The funded childcare offer in the medium of Welsh is one of many ways in which we providing practical support to new learners.”

Over the next two years the Flying Start programme will support more than 9,500 extra two-year-olds thanks to a further £46m investment. This is in addition to the Childcare Offer, which provides 30 hours of funded childcare for 48 weeks a year for working parents and those in education and training with children aged three and four.

Plaid Cymru Designated Member Siân Gwenllian said: “Investment in the early years can be a game-changer for children’s educational outcomes. It is fantastic to see the progress being made on our Co-operation Agreement Commitment to offer free childcare to all two-year-olds.

“Thousands of people across Wales are working hard to help us achieve this commitment – from those planning new provision to those working at settings to deliver the childcare.

Their work is so important and is making a real difference to children’s formative years, and to their families. I look forward to continuing to work with the Welsh Government as the expansion continues.”

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