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