Families First and Flying Start advice and guidance for COVID-19

We advise regularly checking this page for updates
Last updated: September 15, 2020

Recording and reporting virtual support sessions for Families First (FF)

We have received queries recently from Local Authorities about the recording and reporting of services provided virtually throughout the Covid outbreak. We recognise you will require some guidance in relation to this matter. Following discussions with policy and data colleagues, we have agreed the following approach in the first instance:

  • You should record any targeted activity conducted via alternative means during the Covid outbreak in the same way as you would have done previously. For example, any one-to-one or group service that was delivered virtually using Skype, WhatsApp, and similar platforms, etc. should be counted in the same way as you would have previously with face-to-face engagement.
  • You should also count any direct and targeted contacts you have had with families over the telephone and via social media (providing they were meaningful).
  • However, non-targeted support – such as generic messages or videos on social media or YouTube, should not be included, as open access support of this nature is not really within the scope of Families First provision and it will be difficult to know to what extent viewers have actively engaged with it.

If you have any further queries or have any additional information you feel we should be made aware of, please contact your account manager in the usual manner or direct your emails to familiesfirst@gov.wales.

Guidance for Flying Start and Families First Services – COVID 19
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) presents unprecedented challenges to all of our families and services. This document provides guidance on the provision of Flying Start and Families First services during this period.

Please share this with your teams and provide assurance that we are working hard to ensure we provide guidance to support you in provision of services for children and families now and going forward as the situation develops.

Parenting tips
10 Top Tips to support parents and carers of babies and young children (suitable from birth – 4) at home.

Impact questionnaire (COVID-19)

In light of the outbreak of Covid-19, we are eager to explore the extent of the likely disruption to services provided by Flying Start, Families First and the proposed piloting work due to be undertaken by Pathfinder PSBs during 2019/20 and 2020/21.

To help us gather the information we need, we have prepared a short table and some additional questions in the below document. We appreciate that planning for the short term is difficult given the changing nature of the response to the outbreak but we’d be grateful if you would provide the most up to date information you have and return it to the Flying Start mailbox.

Guidance for the Children and Communities Grant (CCG) (COVID-19)

Should you have any further questions please email the Flexible Funding mailbox – FlexibleFunding@gov.wales

Flying Start childcare payments (COVID-19)

The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services has announced that both Childcare Offer and Flying Start childcare providers will continue to be paid should the service be disrupted as a result of Covid -19. More information can be found at the following website: https://gov.wales/childcare-offer-wales-payments-will-continue-even-if-children-do-not-attend-due-coronavirus

Urgent Minister of Education childcare update (COVID-19)

Please follow the link to a written statement issued by the Minister for Education and the Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services: https://gov.wales/written-statement-eligibility-ongoing-provision-children-who-are-vulnerable-or-whose-parents-are

Please find a set of FAQs below that we have developed in response to the position set out in the published statement in the following link which will be updated on a regular basis.

COVID-19 childcare FAQ

BA Childhood Policy Programme

The experience of being a child in the United Kingdom has changed in terms of how children are viewed, valued, and cared for, and policymaking and research relating to children have undergone dramatic changes. The British Academy has undertaken a programme of work that seeks to re-frame debates around childhood within the childhood policy ecosystem across all four UK nations, and to break down academic, policy and professional silos in order to explore new conceptualisations of children in policymaking.

The British Academy Childhood Policy Programme brings the width and breadth of the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to bear on childhood, allowing the British Academy to take a broad, interdisciplinary view on the issues, and to help build important and creative interactions between different academic disciplines and the wider policy and professional communities.

This programme has investigated different aspects of these changes through a number of research activities, including policymaking landscape reviews for each of the four UK nations; case studies on approaches across the four UK nations towards children leaving care and childhood poverty, and evidence on the effectiveness of these different approaches; and a series of stakeholder workshops and engagement activities with policymakers, practitioners and academics.

Visit the British Academy website for more information on the Childhood Policy Programme.

Further resources

Blog: Childhood policy programme synthesis report

Children First pioneers

What is Children First?

Children First is a pilot which brings together organisations to work collaboratively to improve outcomes for children and young people based around a ‘place’.  A long-term strategic focus is developed with communities to address local issues, reduce the inequalities faced compared with children in more socially advantaged places and improve their life chances.

Children First is not a new Government programme but represents a different way of working and a different approach through which a community is supported to identify its own needs and find the best way to address them.

Children First is not just about children, but the families and communities they live within.  The place should be readily recognised by people living there and those supporting it. 

Officials are working with the local authorities and partner organisations in these pioneer areas to develop their proposals and evaluation processes. Tackling and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is meant to be a priority in the Children First areas.

Welsh Government’s National Strategy Prosperity for All, sets out our commitment to Children First, which is to:

  • Pilot Children First areas, to support the better integration of services to reduce the numbers of ACEs and improve the resilience of children and young people.

What’s different about Children First?

Children First will drive a shared strategic approach and provide a clear focus on how all of the elements which support people can work together to best effect.  Children First is targeted at the issues which people living or working in that area feel would benefit from this focused approach.

Children First is not a funded Welsh Government programme, but asks each Pioneer to use its own resources, funding, people and infrastructure to redesign its approach to working with children and families. Pioneers can use funding from existing programmes, like Flying Start and Families First – but no new funding is available.

Children First Pioneer areas

There are now eight Pioneer areas:

  • Caerphilly (the Fochriw and Lansbury Park communities);
  • Carmarthenshire (the Glanymor and Tyisha communities in Llanelli);
  • Conwy (the whole County);
  • Cwm Taf (The Gurnos Estate in Merthyr Tydfil and Ferndale in Rhondda Cynon Taff);
  • Gwynedd (the Maesgeirchen Estate in Bangor);
  • Neath Port Talbot  (the Sandfields West community);
  • Newport (the Bettws and Pillgwenlly communities);
  • Powys (the Newtown community).

Each Pioneer has adopted its own model and it is too early to say if any one model is working more effectively than another. Some are school-based with co-located children’s services, one is led by a social enterprise, one is a community hub based model, another is a hub and spoke model.

Core principles

While there are differences between the models being developed, there are some core principles to the approach:

  • Clarity of place;
  • Long-term, shared, strategic focus;
  • A focus on a community’s strengths;
  • Local freedom and autonomy to decide the focus of activity, whilst aligning to the shared strategic vision;
  • Anchor organisations;
  • Multi-agency approach;
  • System change and effective data sharing; and
  • Dedicated secretariat support to drive things forward.

Related documents

Case studies

Minutes of Children First pioneer meetings

Documents of interest

AGENDA: Supporting children and young people in making positive relationships matter

What is AGENDA?

AGENDA is an online resource for educators who want to support children and young people to safely and creatively make positive relationships matter. Through starter activities and case studies, AGENDA invites educators to explore inclusive, creative and rights-based approaches to a range of RSE issues including: feelings and emotions; friendships and relationships; body image; consent; gender and sexuality equality and equity; gender-based and sexual violence.

AGENDA includes:

  • starter activities to help educators support children and young people to think about what matters to them, and what they would like to change. You can watch one of the AGENDA conferences that feature many of these activities.  
Examples include STOP/START plates used to create a
‘line of action’ on what needs to be changed, skirts made
from graffitied rulers to demonstrate against unwanted
touching and abusive comments, glass jars to collect and
share views on how current RSE affects (jars) young people,
a ‘runway 4 change’ that invites children to stamp out all the
violence in the world, making gender equality fly with kites
and activist ribbons, and writing songs and performing
dramas on issues that matter to young people, from LGBTQ+
rights to mental health.
  • suggested ways for children and young people to speak up and/or take action, including a range of cross-curricular examples from dance and movement (expressive arts) to digital story telling (ICT).
  • case study examples of how educators in schools have supported children and young people to learn and raise awareness about issues that advance the building of equalities and positive relationships
  • how creative methods and pedagogy, such as story-telling, crafting, movement or music enables educators to become more aware of what matters to children and young people
  • further information about how to support children and young people to plan an awareness raising activity
  • ideas and tips to support educators overcome barriers to using the resource
  • annual awareness raising and remembrance dates dedicated to advancing rights, equalities and social justice around the world.
  • links to organisations and websites for further support and information
  • a rights-respecting whole-school approach to gender equality and relationships and sexuality education
  • ideas on how to create safe, confidential and supportive spaces

​The Agenda resource continues to grow and develop as more children, young people and practitioners engage and share their practices with how the resource can be used and adapted for Wales’ new Relationships and Sexuality Education.

To find out more, visit www.agendaonline.co.uk

PaCE project

The PaCE (Parents, Childcare and Employment) project provides childcare support for parents whilst training or looking for work. PaCE offers individual adviser support to parents to help find a suitable job. 

Make a start with PaCE. Are these a barrier for you?

Potential barriers to sustainable employment may include:

  • Childcare
  • Employability skills or training
  • Help with childcare costs
  • Finding work locally to fit with childcare needs

What will PaCE Offer?

  • PaCE will help parents/guardians who are out of work into training and employment
  • PaCE will help find and fund solutions to overcome childcare barriers to enable parents/guardians to prepare for or to access employment opportunities
  • Parents/guardians will receive individualised help via a PaCE adviser in their local community
  • PaCE advisers also support parents/guardians to develop employment skills which will help to improve self-esteem and confidence

Are you eligible?​

PaCE can help parents/guardians who are currently not engaged in any education, training or employment.

What do I do next?

If you are interested in PaCE and believe that you fit our eligibility, complete our form and send it forward to PaCE@gov.wales. A member of staff in the PaCE internal team will then forward your interest to the appropriate adviser.

The adviser will:

  • Offer one-to-one support in family and friendly locations, supporting your search for training and employment
  • Help with ‘Better Off’ in work calculations
  • Offer self-employment advice and guidance
  • Support pre-employment childcare costs
  • Advise on locally available registered childcare provisions and costs 

Further resources:

Parenting. Give it time.

Parenting. Give it time. is a campaign to provide parents of young children with support and advice and to help them encourage good behaviour while looking after their own wellbeing. Although dealing with the ups and downs of being a parent may sometimes be demanding, you are the greatest influence in your child’s life. How you support your child is more important than other things, like how much you earn or your family structure. No parent is perfect and everyone can struggle with the demands of new parental life, especially in the early stages. Although it can be a daunting time, our Facebook page and website show that everyone is facing similar situations. Visit our online communities, where parents can share their thoughts as well as their own top tips and experiences of parenting.

Our website includes tips on how to cope with every-day situations, so that parents can enjoy meal times without the meltdowns, shopping without the stropping, bath time without the tears, and bed time without the battles! Parenting isn’t easy, and although in the early years the focus may be on your child, it is equally important for you to look after yourself too. The campaign is called ‘Give it time’ because we want parents to take time for themselves and to take time to enjoy being a parent.

Real-life stories

Read real-life stories, experiences and tips from our families who are the Faces of the Parenting. Give it time. campaign. These stories are filled with ideas for shopping, travelling with a young child, days out, and getting the kids to help with the chores. Our families’ blogs also have tips and ideas to make family life a little bit easier.

‘Give it time’ – Tips for guiding children’s behaviour

What follows are five ideas that have been shown to work to help you develop a good relationship with your child. These ideas will also encourage positive behaviour, boost your child’s confidence, and support them during each stage of their development. Remember that all children are unique and will respond differently.

If you try these ideas together and give them enough time to work, they should help you to manage your child’s behaviour better. Don’t give up if things don’t get better straight away. It will take time to adjust to your new approach, so try to be patient and positive. If you keep going, you both should see an improvement.

All parents find some behaviour difficult to manage and all children show difficult behaviour some of the time. It’s not easy to change the way you do things. Nobody gets it right all the time so don’t be too hard on yourself – nobody is perfect. Remember that your child isn’t perfect either. A lot of the behaviour you may think of as naughty may actually be normal for your child’s age and stage of development.

1. Make time to create order and structure to your day (suitable for ages 2-7)
Young boy playing with toys

Don’t worry when young children test the limits. That’s how they learn what is right and wrong. It is perfectly normal but it can test our patience! It can help if you have regular routines and some family rules. Read more…

2. Make time to listen, talk and play
Child playing with blocks

Every child is unique. When you talk, listen and play with your child you will learn more about their needs and interests. This will not only help your child develop well but it will also help you build a strong relationship. Read more…

3. Take time to model the behaviour you want to see (Suitable from birth)

From the moment they are born, children listen to what you say and watch what you do. Babies and children learn by imitating. By watching how you behave, your child will learn about how to react in similar situations. Read more…

4. Make time for praise (suitable from birth)
Tiny happy people

Praise works better at encouraging the behaviour you want than criticising and punishing your child for problem behaviour. It helps your child feel good about themselves and feel good about you. Read more…

5. Make time for love and affection (suitable from birth)

Love and affection are essential to a child’s healthy brain development. A child’s feelings about themselves, how confident they are and how well they cope with stress, are all affected by the way their parents respond to them. Read more…

What kind of Mum or Dad are you?

It can be useful to think about the type of parent you want to be. The type of parent you are can affect your child’s well-being, how they develop and how they learn. It can also affect your relationship with your child.

Although raising children is often filled with joy and very rewarding, for most of us, being a parent isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s a lot more difficult than we had thought it would be. When we become parents many of us do what ‘comes naturally’. We don’t usually think too much about our behaviour towards our child or how we respond to their behaviour. We often follow what we have learnt from our own parents or get ideas from friends. Some parents get ideas from books or from the people they see like health visitors.

You can choose what you want to bring from your own childhood, or from other people in your life, and what you want to leave out. What matters is that you care for your child and try to give them the best start in life.

Parenting types: Psychologists have looked at the different ways parents look after their children and react to their child’s behaviour.

Make time to look after yourself and manage stress

It’s important to look after yourself as well as your children. Being a parent isn’t always easy. It can feel hard if you’re tired, stressed and unhappy.

Being a parent is the most wonderful and possibly the most difficult role you will have. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it can prove challenging. Remember nobody is perfect and nobody gets it right all the time.

Looking after a child can be hard work. Most parents feel negative emotions from time to time. These feelings are normal. It is important to manage feelings like anger and frustration so you can enjoy being a parent and have a safe, happy home for your child. Stressed parents are more likely to shout or use harsh punishments like smacking.

The work–family balancing act

Being a working Mum or Dad can benefit you and your family. A commitment to both work and family can give you a lot of satisfaction in both areas of your life. Both roles carry a big responsibility and sometimes it can feel tricky juggling these commitments.

There is no magic formula for getting the work-family balance right. You, your situation and your family is unique. A good balance can look different to different families. Talking things through can help you work out what is important to you and help you work out solutions.

Creating a balance between ‘Family Time’ and ‘Screen Time’

While screen time may be a way for many to relax, a recent survey of Welsh parents with children aged under five found that their child’s use of technology was one of their top concerns. So, how can you balance your child’s use of technology with access to family time and interaction?
Screen time, refers to time spent in front of a screen watching television, playing on a computer, tablet or smartphone.

No-one is able to single-handedly entertain a young child all day or keep up with their energy levels! Often parents will see technology as a way to offer children ‘down time’ or ‘quiet time’ so that they focus on a household task. However experts recommend limiting young children’s daily screen time. This is because of the potential impacts on their physical health, particularly their vision and posture and also their language and social skills.

Helping children deal with bereavement

The death of a parent or close relative is devastating at any age, but grieving the death of mum or dad at a young age is one of the most profound losses a child could face.

Providing the right support to a grieving child can be instrumental in ensuring they continue to thrive and feel positive about their future. Sarah Bull, the Head of Bereavement at City Hospice in Cardiff (formerly George Thomas Hospice Care), has been providing bereavement counselling to children for more than 12 years. Here, she shares some advice for parents or caregivers seeking to support a grieving child.

Supporting your children when a parent goes to prison

Bringing up a child alone isn’t easy; the pressures are even greater if you are a parent trying to raise a family while your partner is in prison.

One of the biggest challenges a parent will face when someone is imprisoned is what to tell the children. Adults play a big part in helping children recognise their feelings and work out the best way to understand them. They may experience many different emotions at the thought of a parent going to prison and will they need help to manage these.

What to tell the children?
It’s your decision but generally, children cope better when you are honest about what has happened. A sudden unexplained disappearance may leave a child confused and scared as they can often sense when something is wrong.

Tricky Moments and Behaviours

Most families have times that are difficult to manage or cause concern for example potty training, bedtimes and mealtimes. Children sometimes behave in ways that are challenging, for example tantrums and biting.

Here are some common parenting concerns and ideas on how to deal with them. Of course, every child is unique, but these tips may help.

There are also a range of different professionals you could talk to. The Family Information Service will have details of services in your area. You can call them on 0300 123 7777. The Family Point website also has information on services and activities in your area.

woman with baby and small child

Coping with a crying baby – All babies cry and sometimes it can be hard to cope with. Crying is the only way your baby can tell you what they need. Giving your baby lots of love and attention will help you get close to your baby and they will learn that the world is safe, and will feel secure.

Tantrums – Tantrums are very common in toddlers and younger children. They happen when children are frustrated and stressed. They can also be triggered when children are tired and hungry or feel jealous, frightened or unhappy.

Girl eating

Shopping – Going shopping can be an exciting experience for children, and a chance to develop their talking skills by pointing out new and interesting things. Sometimes, however, young children get overwhelmed and frustrated, which can be stressful for you.

Tips for coping with Christmas – Christmas gives a wonderful opportunity for families to enjoy spending time together and to catch up with friends and extended family. It is also a very exciting time for children.

Tips on Tooth brushing (suitable 6 months to 5 years) – It’s really important to keep your child’s teeth clean and healthy but it can be tricky if your child doesn’t enjoy having their teeth brushed. Here are some tips on when and how to brush your child’s teeth.

Mother lying in bed with child

Bedtime (Suitable for 3-5) – Sometimes your child will fall asleep easily and sleep through the night. At other times they will have difficulty falling asleep and will wake in the night. A bedtime routine may help cut down on bedtime problems.

Baby on floor smiling

Toilet or potty training (Suitable from 2 years) – Learning to use the toilet is a big step for your child. Don’t rush it. Most toddlers are ready to use the potty or toilet between 2 and 3 years old. Let your child learn at their own pace.

Brother and sister eating

Mealtimes (Suitable for 1-5) – It isn’t always easy to get the family to sit down to enjoy a meal together. But it is worth the effort. Sharing family meals gives everyone a chance to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. Watching you and other family members eat a range of foods can encourage your child to try new foods.

Child's bathtime

Bath time (suitable birth to age 3) – Bathtime can be a fun and relaxing time and can help your child unwind before bed. However some babies and toddlers are frightened of the bath, which can make things feel stressful.

Bed Wetting (Suitable from 3 years) – Bed wetting is very common in children under 5. This generally goes away on its own.

Woman holding baby

Biting (Suitable 6 months – 3 years) – Most children go through a phase where they will bite another child or their Mum and Dad. They do not understand that they will hurt someone if they bite. Luckily this is usually just a phase.

child and adult

Coping with a crying toddler – Just like babies, toddlers cry because they’re hungry, tired, uncomfortable or need your attention. Once your toddler can talk, it will be much easier for them to tell you why they’re upset and what they need.

Woman on a laptop with child

Keeping your child safe from abuse (Suitable for 5-11) – Teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse. It’s a simple way that parents can help keep children (age from 5-11) safe from sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex.

Your Child’s Development

Between birth and age five children grow and change very fast. Understanding more about your child’s development may help you understand your child and their behaviour better. Smiling for the first time, holding a toy, crawling, taking a first step and saying their first words are called developmental milestones. These are the things most children can do by a certain age. Most children’s development follows a similar pattern, although the timing of when certain milestones are reached will vary from child to child. Disabled children or children with additional learning needs may take more time to reach the different stages. There is more detailed information about your child’s development in the ‘Bump, Baby & Beyond’ book. This also provides information about feeding, teething, vaccinations, your child’s health and making your home safe. If you are worried about your child’s development – ask your GP or health visitor.

Don’t try to compare your child to anyone else’s. This will put pressure on you and your child. All children are unique. Every child will develop at their own pace and in their own way. They will reach the different development stages at different times. They will also react differently to things around them, depending on their personality or temperament.

The way your child behaves is part of growing up. A lot of the behaviour you find difficult may be perfectly normal for your child’s age and stage of development. Try to enjoy and celebrate your child’s changes and adapt to them.

Here is some general information about the different stages of development and some tips to encourage and support your child.

Your baby in the first month (new born)
Having a new baby is a very special but very tiring time. It also brings big changes to your life.

Your baby 1 – 6 months
Your baby is becoming a very social being. They love being with you and you will begin to understand more about your baby’s ways and messages.

Your baby 7-12 months
Your baby is becoming more mobile and will take a more active part in family life. They will be able to recognise important, familiar people in their world and may worry when they can’t see or feel you nearby.

Your toddler 1-2 years
At this stage your toddler is becoming much more mobile, is talking more and is trying to be more independent. They are also beginning to know what they want and what they don’t want!

Your toddler 2-3 years
This is an exciting time as your child is able to talk, walk, run and climb to explore the world around them. They have good physical skills but need you to keep them safe. You can help them develop by providing (safe) chances for them to play, while you supervise them.

Your child 3-5 years
Your child is becoming more independent and capable of doing things on their own. They are at the beginning of learning how to get on with others, and can control their feelings better (although they may still have the odd tantrum).

Your child 5-7 years
At this stage your child will be entering into their first few years of education. Watching them try new activities, cheering them on at sports day and applauding them in school plays are usually some of the high points for most parents.

Understanding why your child’s brain is so amazing!
Your child’s brain begins to grow and develop before they are even born. During the first three years it will grow the most and by age three 90% of their brain will be developed. Play, love and care and responding to their cries and babbles will give your child the right kind of experiences to help.

Take time to think about how you respond to unwanted or problem behaviour

Even though it may not feel like it, most of the behaviour you think of as naughty is actually normal behaviour for your child’s age and stage of development. Your child does not do this deliberately or intentionally.

We tend to notice and mention negative behaviour because it is irritating. Unfortunately giving lots of attention to this behaviour may cause it to increase. Instead try to give lots of praise and attention to the behaviours you want to see more of. Alongside giving your child lots of praise, help to build a positive relationship with your child by giving them lots of love and affection, and taking time to talk, listen and play. It will also help if you develop structure and order to your day by establishing some routines.

When you see your child doing something you don’t like, take a little time to think about how to respond.

Key Messages of the Campaign 

Make time to create order and structure to your day

Make time to model the behaviour you want to see

Make time to listen, talk and play

Make time for praise

Make time for love and affection

Children and young people in care

The number of children in care in Wales was 6,407 on 31 March 2018, an increase of 8% on the previous year. Children and young people in care and care leavers are recognised as a marginalised group and their trajectories are often characterised by early experiences of bereavement, family difficulties, childhood adversity, instability and placement moves, labelling, difficult relationships with teachers and social workers, low academic attainment, unemployment, poor mental health, drug and alcohol issues and homelessness.

In response to these issues, the Welsh Government commissioned a study that was carried out by the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE). CASCADE has since worked with the Welsh Government in developing an online community of practice resource to improve the educational experiences of children and young people who are care experienced in Wales ExChange: Care and Education. These resources provide practitioners, foster carers, teachers, researchers, and care-experienced children and young people with a helpful ‘one-stop-shop’ for information relating to improving outcomes in care and education. The resources include films, posters and more. We are always looking to host more resources and if you would like to contribute please get in touch with us.

#MessagesToSchools film

Thrive magazine

Care-experienced posters