Dawn Bowden MS, Welsh Labour’s Member of the Senedd for Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, has welcomed the announcement from the Welsh Labour Government that the Flying Start programme is being expanded to include 2,500 more children under the age of four.
The expansion of Flying Start is the first phase of the extension of high-quality childcare to all two-year olds in Wales.
Welcoming the announcement, Dawn Bowden said:
“Flying Start has had a tremendous impact on many families across Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney.
“I’m pleased that the Welsh Labour Government has committed to the expansion of early years provision. Children who attend early years centres benefit from spending time in a happy, nurturing environment with their peers and are better prepared for primary education.
“This expansion will make a profound difference to the lives of many families.”
From September, the Flying Start programme will be expanded to reach up to 2,500 more children aged 0 to four by increasing the Flying Start target areas in every local authority in Wales.
All children under four living in these areas will be able to access Flying Start services, including childcare for those aged two to three. Eligible families will be notified by their local Flying Start team by the summer.
Once the Flying Start scheme has been fully rolled out, all families in Wales with children aged two to three years will be eligible for 12.5 hours of funded, high-quality childcare for 39 weeks of the year.
Plans for the larger expansion of childcare via Flying Start will be announced in the autumn.
To meet this target, existing Flying Start childcare providers will be supported to expand their reach, with work ongoing to encourage new providers, including those who specialise in Welsh-medium provision, to offer the programme.
Currently 36,000 children under four living in some of the most deprived areas in Wales, benefit from the programme with around 9,000 two-year-olds receiving funded, high-quality, part-time childcare.
An additional £20m in funding has been allocated over the next three years to support the expansion.
Expanding childcare to all two-year-olds in Wales, with a particular emphasis on strengthening Welsh-medium provision, is a commitment in the Co-operation Agreement between the Welsh Labour Government and Plaid Cymru.