Children living in poverty in Wales are falling behind and may never catch up with their classmates.
Save the Children estimates more than a quarter of children under five years old - about 50,000 - are living in poverty. A report said a third of were behind their peers by age five in vocabulary and dexterity and may "never catch up". Research by Save the Children shows once children fall behind in their early years they are more likely to struggle throughout their education. According to its report, nearly half of the children who were in the lowest performing groups at the beginning of primary school remained there at ages seven, 11 and 14. It also claimed about 22,000 children - or 44% - who live in poverty were not eligible for the Welsh Government's Flying Start programme, aimed at children aged under four in deprived areas. Families who are eligible for the service are entitled to two-and-a-half hours of free childcare a day for five days a week.
"Our concern is that the current state of play is resulting in a childcare system that is not fulfilling its potential to help prevent children in poverty falling behind early and remaining behind throughout their education and further into their lives," the report said. "The consequences of children being unable to benefit from quality early education and care for children's development and learning can be devastating. We fear that for too many children in Wales, particularly those living in poverty, access to high-quality provision is still too often left to chance."
The Welsh Government had hoped to abolish child poverty in Wales by 2020, but last year the Welsh Government admitted it did not have the power to make the changes needed to achieve it.
South Wales Branch
Monday, 7:30pm - 9:00pm
Swansea SA1 1NZ
(One meeting out of three will take place in Cardiff.)