THE “important network” supporting parents in areas of Ceredigion covered by Flying Start was highlighted at scrutiny.

In 2018/19 there were 481 children, aged up to four, across the five areas of Ceredigion designated Flying Start – Penparcau, Cardigan, Llanarth, Llandysul and Aberporth.

A further 24 benefited from Flying Start outreach services.

Cllr Keith Evans said it was an “important network for these parents” following a report on the year’s work from Rhian Rees, Flying Start manager.

Ms Rees said the service had a budget on £1.08million but this had been a “standstill budget” for the last four years.

One of the results of this was the loss of a midwife from the team last year, members of the healthier communities overview and scrutiny committee heard on Wednesday (September 18).

A shortage of health visitors in the region meant that 43 families – half of which were high need families – received antenatal visits and it was hoped this would lead to an increase in breast feeding.

After birth there were 426 one to one visits in the first six weeks.

Ceredigion is currently above the Welsh average for breastfeeding in Flying Start areas, added Ms Rees with 68 per cent compared to 35 per cent.

Support for parents included preparing children for school, enhanced packages of support and parenting courses to help in responding to adverse childhood experiences.

One hundred and nine children received  a full offer of childcare, with 100 per cent of children happy in their placement, along with 16,634 childcare sessions funded.

Further funding to support the work of Integrating Early Years Systems has been secured on a regional basis and will be discussed further by Cabinet.