Our Flying Start programme continues to be an important opportunity for us to help give children in Wales the best possible start in life.
Improving their life chances is a top priority for the Welsh Government.
This is why we provide a significant investment of over £70 million to Flying Start which supports families living in some of the most disadvantaged communities across Wales.
Not only does it provide important services such as free part time childcare for 2-3 year olds and enhanced health visiting provision, but is also a vital intervention programme which helps reduce the need for action later in life. The programme is also significant in tackling difficult childhood experiences which can have a long-lasting impact on young people throughout their lives.
Since 2012, the Welsh Government has doubled the number of children receiving Flying Start, with a quarter of children in Wales now benefitting from the programme.
I have visited centres throughout Wales including in Garden City and Holyhead, and it is evident Flying Start is making a real difference to children and their families.
Teachers and head teachers at primary schools have told us for some time they can identify which children have benefited from Flying Start. They are ready for school in ways children from similar backgrounds often were not in the past.
More children now have better opportunities than they would have had without the programme.
Last month, we once again showed our commitment to the programme by announcing over £1m of Welsh Government funding for 33 Flying Start projects across Wales to help them improve their facilities.
This funding is a boost to a number of centres and supports a wide range of projects to ensure children and families have the best possible settings.
The investment will support the complete refurbishment of some Flying Start buildings as well as help adapt empty properties to provide better facilities and improve IT equipment.
Since its inception, Flying Start has invested over £57million developing the infrastructure needed across Wales to deliver the programme. For a number of communities this is the first time childcare has been available in an environment suited to their needs.
It’s vital that we continue to strive to improve the lives of families across Wales and to ensure our children really do have a Flying Start in life.