The report found that while the Flying Start programme, launched three years ago by the Welsh Assembly Government, is still in its early stages, it has begun to influence mainstream services by encouraging a multi-agency approach.
The interim evaluation focused on three main issues: how effective the programme has been in providing structure to ensure the delivery of support to disadvantaged children; whether it is bringing about positive changes in the attitudes and behaviour of children; and whether the programme has been good value for money.
It is based on a data and policy review, a census of Flying Start Partnerships and case studies.
The report found that teachers reported 'noticeable differences' in Flying Start children. They were better prepared for school, quicker to settle, better behaved and more confident at interacting with other children. Other evidence suggested that children in the programme have improved language and cognitive development and the programme encouraged parental engagement.
The report warns against treating the programme as a 'quick fix' and recommends that it be given time to become embedded 'operationally, culturally and consistently' within local early years services.
Wales' deputy children's minister Huw Lewis said, 'We are already working on the recommendations and how best to shape the programme to ensure that these early successes continue into the future.'