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Flexibility key to family programme access issue

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: September 02, 2013

not eligible  Jemma Lewis with her sons Camsey Cooper, aged 21 months, and Carl Lewis, aged nine,  and (below) AM  Mike Hedges.

not eligible Jemma Lewis with her sons Camsey Cooper, aged 21 months, and Carl Lewis, aged nine, and (below) AM Mike Hedges.

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MORE flexibility is needed to identify which families are eligible for a pre- school education programme, which helps prepare youngsters for school, according to a city AM.

Mike Hedges, who represents Swansea East, said it is time to look again at how people are identified as being eligible for the Welsh Government's Flying Start early years programme, which is aimed at families with children under the age of four, in deprived areas of Wales.

It follows the case of a Clydach mum Jemma Lewis, who had hoped her two-year-old son Camsey would be able to access Flying Start, which provides early language development as well as access to parenting programmes and part-time childcare.

But Ms Lewis, who lives on Heol Craigfelen, said she had been told that her son would not be eligible for Flying Start, even though others living on the same street were.

Mr Hedges questioned the way families were assessed.

He said: "When some children start nursery school aged three, they can be two years behind others in terms of development then something needs to be done.

"It is incredibly difficult to reduce this gap over the eight years children are in primary education, this needs addressing before they start nursery school.

"To be eligible for Flying Start, the family or individual must meet certain criteria, such as being pregnant or have at least one child aged 0-3 years, and live within the catchment areas. First time parents or those who need particular help with parenting are identified through a health assessment, and appropriate support given for their needs.

"This area based approach misses many children who live in areas outside the designated area who have the same or greater needs. It is imperative that action is taken to ensure that these children do not miss out.

"Whilst the census area data catches most areas of poverty and children who need support the problem occurs where there are either pockets of deprivation or more often where the boundary used is not a community boundary and so consequently an area alongside a flying start or community first area of equal or even greater need is missed. I believe that either a greater flexibility is needed or that a better method of identifying those in need, especially for flying start must be found. We owe it to our children to ensure that they all have an equal opportunity and that it does not become a post code lottery."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Local authorities are best placed to make these decisions based on data and their knowledge of local needs.

"They must do this against the criteria set by the Welsh Government.

"As part of the expansion of Flying Start we will be building a small element of outreach work to support the most vulnerable families outside of the defined areas ."

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4 comments

  • ivorp  |  September 03 2013, 5:22PM

    Hello JemmaLewis4 Don't give up, it is extremely satisfying when you beat them. What I do is send ever increasing emails size and numbers on the to list. This seems to have worked for me with my problems with councils. whatever you do don't give up, conservative EU members like to help from what I have found in the past but labour not so hot. Come on Jack Straw, do something for this lady and her disadvantaged children. I feel that the council is now discriminating against them. Swansea councillors and other important people, have the decency to reply, you cannot hide for ever, you are public servants. Information commissioner is another resource and you can make FOI/DP requests to your council or the WAG for the information you want, they may or may not ask you for a £10 fee depends how bad minded they are at the time and if they don't reply they are breaking the law and you can then escalate it to the ICO. The PSOW is a about as much use as a glass eye and has one main get out clause if he does not want to help you, " if it can be taken to litigation" then he will decline it. I have never quite worked out what cannot be taken to litigation. Best of luck, regards ivorp

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  • JemmaLewis4  |  September 02 2013, 6:49PM

    It also does not say in either article how these policies and boundaries goes against 7 articles of the United Nations rights of the child, which the assembly haven't long agreed to adhere to! This is discrimination being tolerated as we are white and welsh. I shouldn't have to be seeking help on issues I really don't understand, I assumed that was the job of councillors and AMs.

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  • JemmaLewis4  |  September 02 2013, 6:09PM

    I did contact the children's commissioner but have had no reply. It's not just flying start my children will miss out on but also community events organised by communities first as the boundary still applies. I have contacted many A.Ms and councillors and some have not even acknowledged my email it's shameful

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  • ivorp  |  September 02 2013, 1:25PM

    Same comment as last time , but it is not flexibility that is needed but simple common sense. Don't discriminate, you are perpetuating a problem you are trying so hard to get rid of by disadvantaging other children, what would the children's commissioner say about this . I wonder if it is worth prodding that person? by ivorp Friday, August 30 2013, 4:54AM "The other children are now not deprived because they are getting specialised treatment from the WAG system. Two children have become deprived because of the system you the WAG implemented. Come on WAG use some common sense and look after these two children you are discriminating against. Stop shuffling papers and organising your Christmas party and do something useful to justify the existence of the apparent puppet government status you seem to have earned yourselves."

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