Free care offered to two-year-olds

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Free part-time, high-quality childcare for two-year-olds is to be the centrepiece of a 46m initiative for children aged nought to three unveiled in the Welsh Assembly government's budget last week.

The Flying Start initiative, which will begin next year, involves two years of funding for a package of measures to give children in disadvantaged areas a better start in life.

Education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson said, 'The Flying Start scheme is a crucial part of our coherent package of support for children aged nought to ten.' She said it builds on the Cymorth scheme, the main funding stream for Welsh local authorities, as well as the evaluation of Sure Start in England and international best practice.

Ms Davidson added, 'International evidence has shown that supporting our children when they are very young gives them a better start in life and helps their development in the longer term. Inequality in early years education leads to inequality in life chances. By investing in our very young, we are investing in our future.'

Free part-time childcare for two-year-olds represents 'a major step forward from our existing commitment to three-year-olds', she said. The Flying Start scheme will also entail increased health visitor support and help for parents.

'With Flying Start, Cymorth and our new foundation phase for all three- to seven-year-olds, we will have a winning combination of made-in-Wales policies for our youngest children,' Ms Davidson added.

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly government said details of the free part-time childcare offer would be revealed when the proposals are put out for consultation later this year. But the funding is expected to be strongly targeted at the nought-to-three age group, with 'a high level of notional funding per child'.

 

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