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Monday, 15 January 2018

Update from Welsh Government - Family Information Service



Family Information Service
Welsh Government Update – January 2018


Issue:

Parenting. Give it Time campaign
Background:


Our #Face of parenting competition closed on 31 August with over 200 entries from parents across Wales. 
Update:









Four families have been named as the new faces of the Parenting. Give it time campaign. The families, from across Wales - Rhydyfelin, Rhyl, Newport and Swansea - were selected by a panel of parenting experts. On the Parenting. Give it Time website and Facebook page the chosen families will be sharing their personal experiences of the joys and challenges of bringing up a young family, in the hope that other parents can benefit from their stories. They will also be featured on new resources which will be provided to the FIS in the next few months.

Contact:


Issue:

Legislation to remove the defence of reasonable punishment
Background:



The First Minister confirmed in his legislative statement in July 2017 that the Welsh Government remained fully committed to removing the defence of reasonable punishment and would consult on proposals in the next 12 months, with a view to introducing legislation in Year 3 of the legislative programme.

Update:





The Minister for Children and Social Care launched the consultation on legislative proposals to remove the defence of reasonable punishment on Tuesday 9 January when he delivered an oral statement in plenary. The consultation exercise will remain open until Monday 2 April.
Contact:

Email: TalkParenting@gov.wales / TrafodMaguPlant@llyw.cymru  



Issue:

Childcare Offer
Background:



In September 2017, we began delivery of our Childcare Offer in seven early implementer local authorities across Wales. Our offer, which commits to providing 30 hours of early education and childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds for 48 weeks of the year, is an ambitious one.  This programme of early implementation is central to ensuring the offer meets the needs of children, parents and providers once rolled out across Wales in September 2020.   

Early implementation is currently underway in Anglesey, Gwynedd, Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Flintshire, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Swansea.   Blaenau Gwent is the only one piloting the offer across the whole authority.  Learning from these early implementers will be important in helping us fine-tune policies and systems prior to a wider roll-out.  

Update:









Interest in the offer from parents has been strong, with 50% of anticipated autumn term applications received by the end of September.  Initial feedback from both eligible parents accessing the offer and childcare providers has been generally positive.  Parents are reporting that it is already making a difference to their lives, reducing the strain on family income and helping ensure childcare is not a barrier to them taking up employment or increasing their hours. 

Having closely reviewed the take-up rates over recent months, we have decided that we are in a position to expand the current eligible areas in order to maximise the learning and spend from the first year of implementation. 

Following detailed discussions with the early implementer local authorities over which areas, numbers of children and cost, the Welsh Government has confirmed the offer is now being expanded to include the following areas:

From December 2017
·         Flintshire: Wards of Connah’s Quay South, Connah’s Quay, Wepre, Fllint Castle, Flint Coleshill, Flint Oakenholt, Flint Trelawny, Holywell East, Holywell West, Saltney Mold;
·         Gwynedd: The well-being area of Caernarfon. Includes following wards;  Bethel, Bontnewydd, Cadnant, Clwt y Bont, Cwm y Glo, Deiniolen, Groeslon, Llanberis, Llandwrog, Llanllyfni , Llanrug, Llanwnda, Menai (Caernarfon), Peblig (Caernarfon), Penisa’r waun, Pen-y-groes, Seiont , Talysarn, Waunfawr, Clynnog,

From January 2018
·         Anglesey: Valley 2, Trearddur 1 and 2, Llanfihangel Esceifiog, Brynteg, Llanbedrgoch, Pentraeth, Amlwch rural, Bodorgan, Llanfair yn Neubwll 1 and 2, Aberffraw and Rhosneigr 1, Parc ar Mynydd, Llaneilian, Moelfre, Llanfaethlu, Mechell;
·         Gwynedd: Well-being area of Penllyn, which includes Bala, Llandderfel, and Llanuwchllyn;
·         Caerphilly: Wellbeing Area of Caerphilly Basin wards: Aber Valley; Bedwas; Trethomas; Machen; Llanbradach; Morgan Jones; Penyrheol; St James; and St Martins; Lower Islwyn, wards: Abercarn; Crosskeys; Risca East; Risca West; and  Ynysddu;
·         Rhondda Cynon Taf: Wards of Ynyshir and Pontyclun;
·         Flintshire: Wards of Hope,  Caergwrle and  Higher Kinnerton;
·         Swansea: The wards of Gowerton; Penllergaer; Llansamlet; Penderry; Kingsbridge; Upper Loughor; Lower Loughor; Penyrheol; and Cockett (Subject to any call-in of the Cabinet decision)

Currently the offer is being piloted in:
·         Anglesey and Gwynedd: Anglesey is testing in Menai Bridge, Llandegfan, Llanfairpwll, Beaumaris and Llangoed; the villages of Niwbwrch, Dwyran, Brynsiencyn, Llangaffo, Llanddaniel and Llanedwen; and the town of Llangefni and Talwrn. Gwynedd is testing in the well-being area of Bangor which includes Bethesda; the well-being area of Porthmadog which also includes Criccieth, Penrhyndeudraeth, Harlech and Garndolbenmaen; the well-being area of Ffestiniog which includes areas down to Trawsfynydd; and the well-being area of Dolgellau which includes the area around Barmouth, Corris, Dinas Mawddwy, Dyffryn Ardudwy and Llanbedr. From January 2018, the well-being  area of Caernarfon which includes Bethel, Cwm y Glo, Bontnewydd, Deiniolen, Llanberis, Groeslon, Llanllyfni, Clynnog, Llanrug, Llanwnda, Penisarwaen, Penygroes, Talysarn and Waunfawr will also be testing the offer.
·         Blaenau Gwent will implement the offer across the whole local authority
·         Caerphilly is testing the offer in the Mid-Valleys East region which incorporates urban areas such as Blackwood, Newbridge and Crumlin as well as a number of smaller communities. 
·         Flintshire is testing the offer in Buckley, Bagillt and Broughton, and within areas of Aston, Connahs Quay (Central and Golftyn), Garden City, Greenfield, Higher Shotton, Holywell (Central), Mancot, Queensferry and Sandycroft.
·         Rhondda Cynon Taf is currently testing the offer in four school catchment areas spread across the three valleys and one Welsh-medium catchment area to ensure an even spread across the authority.  These are Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun, Bryncelynnog, Ferndale and Mountain Ash school catchments.  
·         Swansea is testing the offer in wards spread across the city including Dunvant, Penclawdd, Llangyfelach, West Cross, Morriston, Pontarddulais and Gorseinon.  

We are very grateful to the early implementer local authorities for their hard work to date.  They have worked with us to develop and deliver the policy, including the eligibility criteria for parents, the application process, and the payment methods for childcare providers. 

The second phase of our successful #TalkChildcare campaign is about engaging further with childcare providers, through online questionnaires, focus groups and direct consultation.

We have committed to fully roll-out the Childcare Offer by September 2020.  As part of the Draft Budget, the funding to support the childcare offer increases to £25m in 2018-19, and to £45m in 2019-20. This will allow us to expand and test aspects of the delivery of the offer in other local authorities from September 2018 onwards. 

Contact:

Email: Nerys Llewellyn - 03000 251475 nerys.llewellyn@gov.uk




Issue:

Childcare – general
Background:



CWLWM
Funding for the Cwlwm consortium under the Children and Families Delivery Grant (CFDG) was  extended until March 2018.  

Childcare Sufficiency Assessments
All local authorities have submitted their 2017 CSAs to the Welsh Government.

Update:









CWLWM
Cwlwm worked with Welsh Government, Business Wales and Aware to arrange business networking events in November in north and south Wales which FIS representatives attended. Intelligence  from the events will inform how we can improve arrangements to ensure the childcare and play sector get appropriate targeted support.

Childcare Sufficiency Assessments
We are currently analysing the individual local authority CSAs to ensure they comply with regulations. Local authorities will be receiving feedback early in the New Year. The CSA progress reports are due to be submitted to Welsh Government by end of March 2018.
Contact:

Email: ChildcareandPlayMailbox@gov.wales

Website:

Issue:

Play – general
Background:



Play Sufficiency Assessment progress reports and Action Plans
Local authorities have submitted their progress report on the Play Action Plan for 2016-17 and their Play Action Plan for 2017-18.
Update:








Play Wales has conducted a review of the local authority Play Action Plans for 2016-17 and 2017-18 on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Regional events for local authority play officers were jointly delivered by Welsh Government and Play Wales in November and December 2017. The events reported on the findings of the review of the Play Sufficiency Assessment progress reports and Action Plans and shared information from the Welsh Government’s Play Cross Policy Network meeting which was held on 8 November.

Contact:


Website:

I
ssue:

UK Government Tax-Free Childcare scheme

Background:



The scheme enables working parents to receive up to £2,000 of UK government support per child, aged under 12 years, per year towards their childcare costs. If they have a disabled child aged up to 17, they can receive up to £4,000 per child per year. This money, accessed via a childcare account which parents can apply to open, can be used to pay their childcare provider. Parents can only pay their provider from their childcare account if their provider has signed up to Tax-Free Childcare.

For every £8 a parent pays into their childcare account, the UK government will pay in an extra £2. Parents can check whether Tax-Free Childcare is the best offer for their circumstances by using the on-line childcare calculator.

Update:




The UK Government is continuing to roll out the Tax-Free Childcare scheme. Parents of children born on or after 24th November 2011, and parents of disabled children, can now apply to access the scheme.

In response to a query from FIS at the last network meeting about the Childcare choices website not being available in Welsh, Childcare colleagues havefed back the comments to HRMC.  Unfortunately we haven’t had an update on this at this point.
Contact:


Websites:




Issue:

Childcare, Play and Early Years Workforce Plan

Background:



Early Years is one of the five cross cutting priorities of the Prosperity for All: the national strategy published on 19 September. We want children from all backgrounds to have the best start in life.

In December 2017, the WG published its 10 year Childcare, Play and Early Years workforce plan.  The plan will play a vital role in supporting this aim and sets outs its vision to professionalise the sector under 3 key themes.  These being:
·         raising skills and standards;
·         attracting high quality new entrants; and
·         supporting the sector to build its capacity and capability.  

Update:









Implementation of the plan will initially focus on the actions to be taken in this assembly term and will include support for new and existing businesses, a reduction in business rates, and the development and delivery of a new suite of qualifications for the sector covering levels 1-5. 

We have been working with the sector on the development of  business support and skills assistance to ensure we are providing support which will assist to address the challenges and issues faced by the sector in the current economic climate; and to help support the sector in taking up the opportunities offered under the development of the governments free childcare offer.  

Contact:




Issue:

Advice Services
Background:



Advice Services - Funding
There is £5.97 million grant funding in place this year to provide advice on social welfare issues, delivered through three projects: Funding for Front Line Advice, Better Advice Better Lives and the Communities First Shared Outcomes projects.

Two independent reports, published in 2015 and 2016, examined the effectiveness of the services delivered within the Better Advice, Better Lives and Front Line Advice Services Grant and recommended both projects continued given the significant need and demand placed upon existing services.  The findings of the reports, together with the ongoing monitoring of the providers by Welsh Government officials, provides clear evidence that the funding of social welfare information and advice services represents value for money for the public purse and enables services to be delivered, which play a significant role in bringing positive improvements to the social and economic prospects of many people within Wales

Information and advice Quality Framework
The Welsh Government has committed to the development of an Information & Advice Service Quality Framework for Wales. It is expected that this will be rolled out from January 2018.

IAQF Wales is focused on social welfare law (this includes debt, benefits, housing, money, immigration, employment and discrimination advice) and offers:

 (i)  A unifying accreditation offering funders and public a recognisable quality mark;
(ii)  Flexible accreditation routes for information and advice providers which allow the market to develop new and existing standards to meet and exceed minimum passporting requirements for IAQF Wales;
(iii) The potential for transfer to other areas of law.

Update:









During last year (April 2016– March 2017) the Front Line Advice Services funding contributed to organisations responding to over 48,000 requests for information and advice, securing over £12.7 in income gains.

During the first half of this year (1 April – 30 September) the Front Line Advice Services funding contributed to organisations responding to over 29,713 requests for information and advice, securing over £7.9million in income gains, whilst the BABL project helped over 9,946 people in the first half of this year, securing over £9,959,727 in income gains, bringing the total to over 103,400 people with confirmed gains of more than £111.4million since the project started in 2012.

Funding
In line with the Welsh Government’s simplification agenda, the current three advice service funding streams will be merged into a single fund and a competitive grant application /procurement exercise will commence in early 2019 for provider/s to deliver integrated, community based and pan-Wales advice services from October 2019.

The funding specifications of the new fund will promote the development of person-centred advice services, which are planned and delivered collaboratively, including, where practical, cross-sector partnership working. Specific emphasis will also be placed upon service design models being based upon co-production with service users, and on the quality assurance of the providers who will be involved with a collaborative service delivery model.  Working together with the advice sector we aim to develop new outcomes that are better able to capture and evaluate the full value of the services delivered.

In the meantime, as demand for access to advice services is projected to increase, it is important to maintain the stability of advice service provision across Wales, as much as practical. Therefore, the former Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children also agreed that the current funded projects will be continued during the period April 2018 to September 2019.

Throughout the coming months we will be working with the grant recipients, other advice providers and key stakeholders, including LA’s and funders, to develop the framework through which we aim to ensure there is joined-up and sustainable approach to the future funding and delivery of advice services.

Information and advice Quality Framework
Following a competitive tender exercise the Welsh Government has awarded a contract to EMBARC to design, implement and manage the IAQF independent assessment service.

The contract will run for a period of 12 months commencing from January 2018. The first phase of the contract (January to March 2018) will involve the complete design of the assessment service and the recruitment and training of Assessors.

Contact:

Email: financialinclusion@gov.wales






Issue:

Parents, Childcare & Employment (PaCE)
Background:



PaCE aims to help parents who are out of work improve employment prospects.  It does this by providing access to training and development or job opportunities that might not otherwise have been possible due to childcare commitments.  PaCE helps with the cost of childcare while parents undertake training and development to gain the skills they need to get a job. 

PaCE is a £13.5m programme backed with £8.5m EU funds, aiming to support approximately 8,200 people across Wales and help over 1,600 in to employment over the course of the project.

Update:









UP to December 31st 2017, PaCE had engaged with 2577eligible parents and helped 784 of those in to employment, so just over 30% of people we work with are moving into jobs over 16 hours per week.

Over 43 PaCE advisers are in post across the majority of local authorities in Wales.  They all have access to an array of promotional materials in hard copy and also electronically, including posters, leaflets and flyers, so if you need any PaCE publicity please let us know.

Please contact the PaCE mailbox if you don’t know who your local PaCE contact is, and we’ll help you make contact with them.

Welsh Government PaCE team would like to express their thanks to all FIS teams for the continued support in working closely with PaCE at a local level. We are always seeking to improve ways of working together and are happy to talk to your teams individually should you think it would be helpful.

Contact:



Issue:

Welfare Reform
Background:



The UK Government have been introducing many changes to welfare benefits as part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the Welfare and Work Act 2016.  Two new Welfare Benefits are Universal Credit (UC), which will replace 6 in and out of work benefits and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

Update on Universal Credit:










The UK Government continues to expand its Universal Credit (UC) full service in Wales. In the Autumn Budget the UK Government announced that UC roll out schedule has been further amended and for new claimants will be complete by December 2018. 

Local Authorities which have now rolled out UC full Service in Wales are Flintshire, Torfaen, Wrexham, Neath Port Talbot, Newport and Swansea. DWP will continue working with the Welsh Local Government Association and Welsh Government on engagement with Local Authorities as they move onto the UC full service. 

Also announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget:

a)    From January 2018, those who need it and, have an underlying entitlement to Universal Credit, will be able to access up to a month’s worth of Universal Credit within five days via an interest-free advance.  The UK Government will extend the period for the interest-free advance of recovery from six months to twelve months, helping Universal Credit claimants to manage their finances.  New Universal Credit claimants in December 2017 will be able to receive an advance of 50% of their monthly entitlement at the beginning of their claim and a second advance to take it up to 100% in the New Year, before their first payment date. 

b)    From February 2018, the UK Government will remove the seven-day waiting period so that entitlement to Universal Credit starts on the first day of application.

c)    From April 2018, those claimants already on Housing Benefit will continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim.  This will be a non-recoverable payment. Also from April 2018, Temporary Accommodation will be removed from Universal Credit and moved back to being paid as Housing Benefit (subject to secondary legislation changes). The UK Government will also make it easier for claimants to have the housing element of their award paid directly to their landlord.  Claimants who have their Housing benefit paid directly to their landlord will have this arrangement when they transition to UC.

DWP have issued revised guidance on the introduction to Universal Credit for people who are claiming it; link below:

Update on Personal Independence Payment (PIP):
Section 89 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 committed the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to publish two independent reports on the operation of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments. Paul Gray CB has led on both reviews.

The second review was published in March 2017 which built on the recommendations from the first review and considered how effectively further evidence is being used to assist, the correct claim decision and the speed and effectiveness of information-gathering.  The UK Government published their response to the second review in December 2017 – a link to the response is shown below:


Contact:





Issue:

Welsh Government Warm Homes – Nest
Background:



Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest provides households in Wales with access to a range of free, impartial advice and support to help them reduce their energy bills and maximise income. For those households most in need, support includes a referral for eligible households for a package of free home energy improvements.
Update:



After a procurement  conducted by NPS,  the new Nest contract was awarded to British Gas in December 2017.The new contract starts from 1 April 2018. (British Gas are the scheme manager for Nest for the current contract which ends on31 March 2018.
Contact:


Website: www.nestwales.org.uk

Issue:
Cymraeg i Blant/Cymraeg for Kids

Background:
The Cymraeg for Kids programme offers practical support for parents and prospective parents and their children to use Welsh. As well as offering help and advice on Welsh-medium education / childcare, Cymraeg for Kids staff across Wales offer fun, free activities through the medium of Welsh.
Update:
Copies of ‘Your Guide to Welsh-medium Education’ – a booklet for parents and prospective parents – have now been distributed to each FIS. Thank you for agreeing to assist with the distribution of these booklets.

If you have any questions, or need further copies of the booklet, please contact us at the email address below.
Contact:



Issue:

Dewis Cymru
Background:



The Dewis Cymru wellbeing website has been developed to assist local authorities to discharge their duties under part 2 of the SSWB Act.
Update:



   Dewis Cymru has now been adopted by 21 local authorities across
   Wales. The Dewis Cymru project team is supporting regional and national
   working groups to manage the implementation of plans to raise
   awareness of the website and to populate the resource directory
   with local information. This includes migrating childcare and family
  support services information in a number of authorities.

   Communication with the FIS network and the All Wales Heads of
   Children Service (AWHoCS) group has taken place throughout the
   development of Dewis Cymru. 

   Work to develop Dewis Cymru national information pages about
   services for children and young people is well underway. Jason
   Townsend and Lisa Atherton (the two FIS regional chairs) are
   members of the task and finish group associated with this work).
Contact:

Email: Steve Williams (Dewis Team at SSIA): sgw_management@btinternet.com



Issue:

Legacy Fund (formerly Communities First programme)
Background:



On the 14th February 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children announced that the Communities First Programme would be phased out by March 2018.  The decision followed a broad period of engagement with Communities First staff, community members and supporting partners and stakeholders across Wales.
Update:









During the last six months considerable work has been undertaken to develop the principles which will underpin the Legacy fund.

A co-productive approach has been used to develop guidance principles as well as full guidance with eligible local authorities, Lead Delivery Bodies (LDBs) and other key partners being involved in the development of the principles. They were issued to eligible Local Authorities and LDBs on 11 September 2017.  Formal guidance was then issued on 21 December 2017.

Contact:




Issue:

Discretionary Assistance Fund  

Background:



On 1 April 2013, the Welsh Government set up a national scheme called the Discretionary Assistance Fund which is managed by Northgate Public Services. Following a second competitive tendering exercise Northgate Public Services (Northgate) are working in partnership with Family Fund and Wrexham County Borough Council. This contract will run until March 2020 with the option to extend annually for a further three years. 
The Fund can also be accessed to enable or maintain independent living. 
These payments are made available to people who have no other means of meeting the immediate cost of living and are not intended to meet the cost of ongoing expenses.
Update:









From June 2015 the DAF also provides financial assistance to enable parents and carers to maintain contact with children receiving Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) inpatient treatment. Only applicants who are in contact with the CAMHS service are able to apply for this support, and all applications are verified by the CAMHS consultant.

During June 2015 – November 2017 there have been 320 applications to the DAF for this support, with over £66,500 being awarded.

Contact:





Issue:

Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Transformation Programme and Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill *

Background:



The Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill is part of a wider transformation programme which aims to ensure that all learners with ALN are supported to overcome barriers to learning and can achieve their full potential.

Update:









The Bill was passed by the National Assembly for Wales on 12 December 2017 – information including the Bill, draft Code, impact assessments and committee reports can be found on the Assembly’s website.[1] Our focus in 2018 will therefore shift to the subordinate legislation, including a consultation in the autumn on some of the draft regulations and the next iteration of the draft ALN Code. 

A public consultation took place between February and June 2017 on how the Welsh Government should implement the ALN Bill.  A summary of the consultation responses were published alongside our proposed approach on 11 December[2]

This will now be used to develop and refine an implementation guide for delivery partners setting out detailed guidelines to support implementation. The five ALN Transformation Leads will all take up post by spring 2018.  These new roles will support the ALN transformation programme by managing the implementation grants for local authorities and further education institutions, including coordinating the delivery of regional, multi-agency training and professional development on the new legislative framework[3].

The £20million package of support allocated to the ALN transformation programme[4] will allow for a significant investment in the workforce development strand of the programme. This will enable us to invest in up-skilling ALNCos and specialists more quickly and provide high quality continuing professional development to help ensure a highly skilled workforce to support the delivery of these fundamental reforms.

Specialists play a vital role in supporting learners with ALN, which is why the  Welsh Government have recently allocated £352,000 to support the postgraduate training of local authority-based specialist and advisory teachers of learners with visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI) and multi-sensory impairment (MSI).  This funding may also be used to facilitate training in Braille and British Sign Language for local authority-based specialist staff.

The Welsh Government have also recently commissioned Eliesha Cymru to develop a suite of learning and training materials to support implementation of the ALN transformation programme, as a result of the feedback to the consultation on implementing the Bill. These will form the basis of multi-agency implementation training once the Code and subordinate legislation are in place. 
Contact:



Issue:

Foundation Phase

Background:



The Foundation Phase (FP) is a flagship policy to provide developmentally appropriate learning/curriculum for 3-7 year olds modelled on Scandinavian approaches. It is the bedrock of the education system and links to education reform set out in Successful Futures; to tackling deprivation and to National Literacy and Numeracy Programmes (and early language development). 
Update:









Parent Information booklets

A revised guide for parents and carers on Foundation Phase ‘How is my child doing in Foundation Phase’ was updated and published in Summer 2017: http://gov.wales/docs/dcells/publications/170627-hwst-foundation-en.pdf   The guide has been updated to include information on learning through play and the Foundation Phase Profile.

We are looking to publish and promote a new digital booklet towards the end of February 2018: ‘Foundation Phase nursery: A guide for parent and carers’, which will raise awareness of the early education offer and the Foundation Phase in Wales for parents and carers of 3-4 year olds. 

To support the digital booklet a parent campaign will be launched in early spring 2018 to raise awareness and promote the benefits of Foundation Phase nursery.

Estyn thematic report

On 14 December 2017, Estyn published its thematic report, Active and experiential learning: Effective Foundation Phase practice in literacy and numeracy in Year 1 and Year 2. https://www.estyn.gov.wales/thematic-reports/active-and-experiential-learning-effective-foundation-phase-practice-delivering?utm_source=ENG-link&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=active-and-experiential-learning

A response to the report was published by the Welsh Government on its website shortly after: http://gov.wales/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/raisingstandards/estynremit/estynreports/active-experiential-learning/?lang=en

The report drew on evidence collected during primary school inspections since 2010 as well as visits to 27 schools across Wales to observe Foundation Phase practice in deliverying literacy and numeracy in Years 1 and 2.  The report and the recommendations have been cascaded to all our stakeholdes.  The Welsh Government will work with schools and edcucation services to ensure that the recommendations are taken forward. 

Contact:




Issue:

Family Point
Background:



Promo Cymru was grant funded by Welsh Government under the Children and Families Delivery Grant (CFDG), from 1 October 2014 to 30 September 2017, to deliver the Informed Families Project, now known as Family Point Cymru.

The Family Point helpline has been developed as an alternative to the Family Point website as not everyone in the community has access to the internet and to ensures that families, as far as is practicably possible, are appropriately informed about support available to them.

Update:




The CFDG funding came to an end on 30 September.  The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children agreed further funding to support the helpline element of the project until 31 December 2017.
Contact:

Website: familypoint.cymru

Issue:

ACEs
Background:



As part of the focus on supporting the development of resilient communities, and on improving outcomes for children and young people, Welsh Government is promoting a focus on preventing and mitigating the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  Welsh Government already funds and supports a number of programmes and interventions which are aimed at preventing ACEs, or intervening early to reduce their impact.  These programmes often also address other key issues in improving outcomes for children, for example neglect, early attachment and bonding, or poverty.

Alongside this, the Cabinet Secretaries for Communities and Children and for Education have contributed £400,000 to the setting up of the ACE Support hub, the aim of which is to enable ACE informed professionals and organisations, and develop an ACE aware society.  Public Health Wales is also contributing to the setting up and running of the ACE Support hub. 

Update:





Welsh Government is continuing to develop a cross-government approach to the prevention of ACEs, incorporating existing work and linking with new initiatives such as Children First, alongside its funding of the ACE Hub which aims to enable ACE informed professionals and organisations and develop an ACE aware society.

The Welsh Government is currently in discussions with Cymru Well Wales about the continuation of support for the ACE Support Hub for 2018-19.

Contact:

Email: Wayne.Warner@gov.wales


Issue:

Children First

Background:



In October 2016, the former Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, invited organisations to develop “children’s zones for Wales, collaborating seamlessly to improve children’s and young people’s outcomes”.

This approach - now called Children First in Wales – aims to enable organisations to come together:
      around a specific place
      to work collaboratively for the children and young people in that place
      to reduce the inequalities these children face compared with children and young people in more socially advantaged areas

It is an approach, facilitated and enabled by Welsh Government, rather than a new funded programme.

The following five proposals have been selected to pioneer the approach.

Proposer/ anchor organisation
Location
Caerphilly County Borough Council
Lansbury Park and Fochriw
Carmarthenshire County Council
Glanymor and Tyisha (Llanelli)
Cwm Taf Public Service Board
Gurnos and Ferndale/ Tylorstown
Gwynedd Council
Maesgeirchen (outskirts of Bangor)
Newport City Council
Bettws and Pillgwenlly



Update:



The Welsh Government is continuing to work with the five pioneer areas to take forward Children First. It has met with the Pioneer areas and a programme of meetings have been agreed through to the summer of 2018.

Contact:

Email: Email: Wayne.Warner@gov.wales





Issue:

Safeguarding

Background:



National Protection Procedures: Cardiff and the Vale Safeguarding Board have received Welsh Government funding to lead a review of current safeguarding policies and procedures for children and adults.

The review will include an assessment of existing good practice and areas where the processes for children and adults reflect each other and where they differ and where these differences are necessary.  It will also link in to the guidance issued by Ministers under Part 7 of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, (in particular Volumes 5 and 6 on Handing Individual Cases) to clarify the requirements of the revised policy and procedures.

Professor Jan Horwath acts as the Independent Development Consultant for this project. The Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru sponsors this work in close agreement with national representatives from the statutory partners who make up the ADSSC National Safeguarding Group.

National Safeguarding Week: Welsh Government has provided £22,000 funding for the second annual National Safeguarding week.


Update:









National Protection Procedures: The Welsh Government is supporting the work on the National Protection Procedures over the next 12 months. A number of Task and Finish Groups are being established to produce practice guidance on specific safeguarding issues for children and young people. These are intended to be used in conjunction with the National Protection Procedures. Invitations for nominations to these subject specific Task and Finish Groups have been shared via various networks including Safeguarding Children Boards. Draft content of practice guidance will be provided to Cardiff and the Vale Board who will consult on and issue them with the National Protection Procedures. This work should be complete by the end of December 2018.

Guidance under Part 7: (Working Together to Safeguard People) Volumes 5 and 6 (Handling Individual Cases) of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014  will be published this Spring.

National Safeguarding Week: The National Conference on Safeguarding in Sport was a well attended and received event and there was activity across the regions of each of the 6 Safeguarding Boards.


Contact:

Email: sam.clutton@gov.wales




Issue
Tackling poverty

Background
Levels of poverty are projected to rise in the coming years.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) projects that the absolute child poverty rate (after housing costs) in Wales will increase from 28.0 per cent in 2013-15 to 34.9 per cent in 2019-21 – more than in any other part of the UK.

This is driven by welfare benefit changes such as the limiting of tax credits and Universal Credit to two children, and the freeze to most working-age benefits. Analysis for the Welsh Government by the IFS shows that households in Wales lose around £460 a year (1.6 per cent of their net income) on average from the UK government's tax and benefit reforms introduced between 2015-16 and 2019-20.

We know lower-income households, particularly those with children, lose considerably more on average (around 12 per cent of net income). Large families are especially hard hit losing around £7,750 a year or 20 per cent of net income on average.

Update
We are taking a whole government approach to prosperity for all. Welsh Government’s National Strategy: Prosperity for All reflects how we can respond to the needs of citizens in Wales, including the needs of those living in poverty.

Under the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) 2015 Act, a set of 46 National Indicators for Wales will measure national progress towards achieving the seven well-being goals. A number of these link with the objectives of the 2015 Child Poverty Strategy for Wales and we will report on the National Indicators through the annual Well-being Report for Wales.

In 2019, we will also publish our next statutory report on the extent to which the objectives in our Child Poverty Strategy have been achieved, as required under the Children and Families (Wales) Measure 2010. The five key priority areas are childcare, housing and regeneration, mitigating the impacts of welfare reform, in-work poverty and food poverty.

Education in Wales: our national mission is the education plan published on 26 September which sets out how we will continue to raise standards and reduce the attainment gap between disadvantaged learners and their peers.

The Economic Action Plan was released on 12 December. It is wide-ranging and draws on levers across Government to support economic growth, spread opportunity and promote well-being. We are committed to creating a strong economy and labour market which supports the tackling poverty agenda and reduces in-work poverty. 

Recognising that work provides the most effective route out of poverty; our Employability Delivery Plan will be published shortly. It underpins the Taking Wales Forward commitment to reshape employability support for job-ready individuals and those furthest from the labour market to acquire the skills and experience they need to gain and maintain sustainable employment. 

The Taskforce for the Valleys has also published the delivery plan for Our Valleys, Our Future. This sets out a range of aims and actions in the three priority areas of jobs and skills, improved public services and the local community. We will report on progress made and identify best practice which can be shared across the rest of Wales.

Contact

Issue:

Flexible Funding
Background:



 Over many years Welsh Government has introduced a number of programmes aimed at supporting vulnerable people and communities.  Each programme is accompanied by a specific grant with its own requirements and restrictions. Viewing these programmes and their funding as distinct and separate does not reflect the reality of people’s lives nor does it reflect the need for joined up citizen centred services. 

Since 2016 we have been working with LAs to align the various grants and reduce bureaucracy and administration.  Early in 2017 the decision was taken to increase the scale and ambition of this work; consequently all LAs were invited to submit expressions of interest to pilot greater funding flexibilities in support of service re-design.

In 2018-19, there are 7 LA pathfinders who will have 100% flexibility across 10 grants in order to achieve increased programme alignment, make more effective use of funding and meet local needs. This greater financial freedom and flexibility is expected to enable the pathfinders to work differently, giving more scope to design services to support the Government’s drive for more preventative, long-term approaches. The remaining 15 non-pathfinder LAs will have flexibility to reallocate funds – up to 15% - across 5 grants.

Update:





Over the last few months, we have been liaising with LAs and other stakeholders to work through the operational details of the grant and how it will be monitored for 2018-19. This includes developing supplementary guidance, a series of outcomes and an overarching template delivery plan.

For 2019-20, no decision has yet been made on whether there will be a single grant. However, we will use the learning from the pathfinders and an independent evaluation to inform a decision (in early 2018-19) on whether a single grant is developed for 2019-20.
Contact:



Issue
Family Information Service Guidance refresh

Background
Delivering quality information for families together:  A guidance document for Family Information Services in Wales provides FIS teams with detailed guidance on the design and delivery of FIS in Wales.  The content of the document is wide ranging and a recent review of the content found some of the information within was outdated and needed updating.
Update
Work is underway to update the guidance to ensure it is fit for purpose.  We are working with key teams within the Welsh Government to update the text and the layout and once the first draft has been completed it is our intention to circulate it to the FIS network for comment.  It is hoped the first draft will be completed by the end of January, with a view to the refreshed guidance being published in the spring.
Contact