A call for parents across Wales to honour the professionals whose dedication is giving their youngsters a flying start in life has brought huge waves of nominations.
More than 100 parents, including many from Rhondda Cynon Taff, have already put names forward for the new ‘Stars in their Lives’ award, which aims to highlight the amazing contribution made to youngsters in their crucial early years by staff such as health visitors, midwives, parenting and learning support specialists, and other childcare and development workers.
The accolades are targeted specifically at workers operating in Flying Start areas; those districts and neighbourhoods where families face highest levels of disadvantage and the biggest challenges in raising their children.
Parents, carers and grandparents in these areas have until August 31st to nominate a Flying Start worker they believe has made an outstanding contribution to their child’s development.
Nia Thomas, Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Flying Start Lead Manager said: “We routinely hear positive comments from parents about the contribution of Flying Start staff and how they go the extra mile to help their little ones.
“To provide this support successfully requires a huge amount of initiative, creativity and compassion. We want to hear stories about those individuals who have shown particular tenacity and genuine care for the children and families they support.”
Flying Start is one of the Welsh Government’s key programmes for tackling poverty and aims to make a decisive difference to the lives of children under four in the most disadvantaged communities by offering parents free quality childcare for 2-3 year olds, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help for early language development.
Over the past year alone, more than 31,000 children across Wales took part in the flagship programme, which aids families through additional contact with health visitors, free childcare and practical support in developing youngsters’ behaviour, social skills, learning and play.
More than 2,000 highly-trained staff across Wales are involved in delivering these critical services, and the new award coincides with a major expansion of Flying Start that will see 36,000 children benefitting from the programme by 2016.
Nominations forms for the Stars in Their Lives awards are available from local Flying Start centres or via the Family Information Service, or can be made online at www.facebook.com/FlyingStartWales.
The closing date for nominations is August 31st and awards will be presented at the Flying Start conference in the Autumn by the Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething.