Cardiff Council to expand children’s Flying Start programme

Cardiff Council is to expand the Welsh Government’s flagship ‘Flying Start’ programme into new parts of the city and reach an additional 400 children up to the age of three.

Newly eligible families will receive an offer of funded childcare for their two-year-olds as well as advanced health and parenting support from birth.

The scheme, first introduced in Wales in 2006, is intended to improve the health and life chances of children in deprived areas by offering a range of benefits through the council’s Early Help service and health boards. They include:

Enhanced health visiting

  • High quality childcare for two-and-a-half hours, five days a week over the school year
  • Parenting support, including one-to-one support in the home
  • Early identification of children with additional learning needs (ALN)
  • Help for vulnerable children, including those in homeless hostels and children of young parents, refugees and asylum seekers

 To determine who is eligible for the Flying Start programme, authorities including Cardiff Council, had originally targeted school catchment areas with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals.

But since 2012, authorities have instead used the Welsh index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) which uses a number of data sources, including figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, to identify children who can benefit.

The council then receives a grant from the Welsh Government to deliver the programme, based on £2,400 per head up to a capped number, currently 4,901 in Cardiff.

Cllr Ash Lister, Cardiff Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Services (Children’s Services), said: “It’s clear that the Flying Start programme is an excellent way to give the right help to the families who need it most and has had a significant impact on thousands of children since it was introduced 16 years ago.

“We now have funding to begin the expansion programme from September, but we already have spare capacity due to factors including a falling birth rate in the targeted areas,

“As a result, we have expanded the reach and identified children in seven new areas of the city who can benefit. We did have funding for an additional 338 children but expanding into these areas means we can reach 409 children within the funds available.

“Expanding our Flying Start programme is just one of the areas of work in which we are meeting our commitment of providing support to children and young people in the right place at the right time.”

To fund the programme, the Welsh Government has given Cardiff Council more than £642k for 2022-23 and more than £980k for the following year, through the Childrens and Communities Grant.

A report into phase one of the expansion went before the council’s cabinet today (July 14) and members agreed to approve prioritising areas, in line with Government guidance.