PENARTH and Cardiff South AM Vaughan Gething has announced that more than 800 deprived children across the Vale of Glamorgan are benefitting from a Welsh Government support scheme.

It was announced earlier today, March 4, that a record 23,000 children living in Wales’ most deprived communities are benefitting from a flagship Welsh Government scheme that helps them have the right start in life.

Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty Vaughan Gething has told Assembly Members that the £279 million expansion of Flying Start is on target to reach more families than ever before.

The latest figures show that 3,368 children received Flying Start services in Cardiff in 2012 -13, while the figure for the Vale of Glamorgan is 866. The figure for Wales is 23,579.

Flying Start offers eligible parents free quality childcare for children under the age of four, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help with their children’s early language development.

In 2011 the Welsh Government committed to increase the number benefitting from the scheme from 18,000 to 36,000 by 2016. The move is one of the Welsh Government’s ‘Five for a Fairer Future’ commitments.

Ministers are investing more than £254 million of revenue funding in the programme over the four years of the expansion (2012-16) and £25 million of capital funding to develop the infrastructure.

There are now facilities in many parts of Wales where parents can access Flying Start support, with 172 capital projects taking place as a direct result of the expansion.

Ministers predict that in 2014 -15 32,657 children are expected to benefit from the programme, reaching the full 36,000 by 2016.

Vaughan Gething said: “I am delighted to be able to say that we are on track to deliver our commitment to double the number of children that benefit from Flying Start, one of our key commitments to the people of Wales.

“The undeniable truth is that children living in poverty are much more likely to have worse health outcomes, worse education outcomes, and poorer job prospects. Poor children are more likely to become poor adults who then go on to become parents of poor children.

“Flying Start has a key role to play in breaking this cycle and that is why we have a clear commitment to expand the number of children benefiting from this policy. We are making a difference and investing in the future of some of the poorest families right across Wales.

“By 2016 we want to see 36,000 children, that’s one in four of all children in Wales below the age of four, benefiting from Flying Start. I have personally been to a number of Flying Start settings across the country where parents have told me that they have seen real improvements in their children’s language, social and emotional skills. Our aim is for children, no matter where they are born, to have the same start and opportunities in life as others.”