A Welsh Government Child Development Fund contributed to Ceredigion’s ability to provide several additional services between December 2020 and March 2021.
One of them being ‘Childcare Outreach’, this funding is paid directly to childcare settings to allow families facing hardship, the opportunity to place children into childcare with local nurseries or childminders. The families are referred by professionals such as Health Visitors, Speech and Language Therapists or childcare staff.
The main purpose of this provision is to give children (0-4 years old) and families that have been impacted by COVID-19, through loss of income or where mental health has been an issue, the opportunity to “catch up” on their developmental milestones. Over 40 families across the County have been able to access this support. One parent says, “I spend the time doing online therapy and it is the mental health break I need. I also have reoccurring kidney issues which result in hospitalisation. It’s the break I need to be able to carry on. This help has seriously been my life line, I was in a dark place and having the break helps my mental health tremendously, I’m so thankful.”
Another parent said, “This [Childcare Outreach] has taken the pressure off me as I have 10 year old twins at home and I have found it a struggle through the Covid Pandemic, with them only being in school for 8 weeks in a year. Also I am off sick with autoimmune disease at the moment so I have been struggling with benefits. My child really enjoys his time in playgroup and the fact he’s been able to attend through this time has done him wonders.”
Catrin Evans, Family Support Worker says, “I believe the Outreach Childcare has had a positive impact on families, for example a child’s sleep and behaviour has improved due to the stimulation and routine they experience in the Nursery. Parents also report that they get a break, and it gives them opportunity to spend quality time with younger siblings.”
The funding has also contributed to a ‘Coat and Wellies’ Grant. This provides clothes for parents and children (0-5 years old) to ensure that they have suitable coats and footwear to stay warm and dry outside in all weathers. Families are referred by Family Support Workers and are supported by vouchers to spend specifically on these items. This has been a great success with over 70 families benefitting from this provision.
The funding was also used to purchase activity packs full of resources to promote physical play. Weekly videos are posted on Facebook and YouTube providing ideas on how to use the resources effectively. One grandparent said, “Can I just say that I have been playing the videos from YouTube for my grandchildren at home, especially on rainy days when they have not been able to go outdoors. I love to see them do all the different exercises! It gets them moving and burn off all that energy.” These videos can be found at: @TeuluoeddCeredigionFamilies and @CeredigionActif
Lastly, the additional funding has provided opportunities to purchase extra training and resources for childcare and family centre staff, sensory equipment for children with Autism and has helped equip families to get online to access parenting courses during the pandemic.