Cabinet has agreed to seek formal approval from Welsh Government to pilot a number of proposed changes within the Early Years system in Rhondda Cynon Taf – which will improve services to children in their early years.

On Thursday, July 18, Members agreed to support the changes, which will now be formally submitted to Welsh Government. Among the proposals is the removal of the current geographical determination of the Flying Start childcare offer – to instead be delivered universally, based on need. Cabinet also agreed a reduction in the number of weeks that childcare is offered per year (from 42 to 39), consistent with national guidance.

An Officer report to Thursday’s meeting states the proposed changes originate from a project with Welsh Government, Cwm Taf Morgannwg UHB and Merthyr Tydfil CBC, supported by the Cwm Taf Public Services Board. This focused on building resilience; applying vulnerability profiling data to support targeting of services, and delivering an integrated Early Years system through improved collaboration.

Priority changes to Early Years specific to Rhondda Cynon Taf were identified by the Council – with its Resilient Families Service ideally placed to provide the framework for service delivery.

The new system in RCT would see the Resilient Families Service as the single point of access for an improved Flying Start provision, which would still deliver the four strands of Flying Start. The new provision would comprise of:

  • Parenting – open access to informal parenting support and formal parenting programmes (for families with children up to the age of 18) and specialist support for parents of children with additional needs.
  • Early Language and Communication – a targeted early intervention for children aged 21 months identified as experiencing language delay, and children up to the age of 7 who are not making expected progress.
  • Health Visiting – access to interventions available across Rhondda Cynon Taf for children aged 0-5 years, and their families.
  • Childcare – funded childcare for 2-3 year-olds as part of a co-ordinated package of support for families based on an assessed need.

Councillor Christina Leyshon, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Cabinet Members have considered a number of important changes within the Council’s Early Years system and Flying Start programme – with the aim of improving the service so we can provide the right support to the right people at the right time.

“Since the Cwm Taf Public Services Board gave direction in July 2018 to create a single approach to early intervention, several measures have been implemented towards achieving this in Rhondda Cynon Taf – including the piloting of a number of Flying Start expansion programmes. The RCT Early Years and Family Support Services have also been re-organised, along with the Community Wellbeing and Resilience Service. From April 1, 2019, the Resilient Families Service has included a new Parenting Support Team.

“These changes would remove the geographical element of the Flying Start childcare offer, which often throws up anomalies within communities based on their specific postcode – and I wholeheartedly agree with the change to a needs-based approach. Following Cabinet’s approval on Thursday, the changes will now be formally sent to Welsh Government for its determination.”

Posted on Friday 19th July 2019

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