Agenda Item No. 6


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee: 16th May, 2016


Report of the Director of Social Services


The Vale of Glamorgan Family Information Service


Purpose of the Report

  1. To update Scrutiny Committee on the work of the Vale of Glamorgan Family Information Service (FIS).



  1. Members of the Scrutiny Committee note the work of the FIS.
  2. Members of the Scrutiny Committee note the need to plan for the impact of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 upon the service, given that it requires the Council and its partners to put in place a broader well-being service (which provides people with information and advice relating to care and support and assistance in accessing care and support).
  3. Members of the Scrutiny Committee request a further update on an annual basis.

Reason for the Recommendations

1, 2 & 3. To ensure effective oversight of social care services.


  1. The Vale Family Information Service (FIS) is a one-stop information service for parents and carers of children and young people aged 0-20 years in the Vale of Glamorgan, as well as for professionals working with families. It provides free information on a wide range of childcare options and activities for children, their families and their carers.
  2. This includes information on nurseries, childminders, out of school clubs, playgroups and parent and toddler groups. We also provide information on paying for childcare and working in childcare.
  3. The FIS maintains a database of over 1,000 services. Families and professionals can contact the service directly and the information is also available online via a childcare search facility, play and leisure search facility, the family support directory and the Swoosh website for young people. Information is updated at least annually.
  4. FIS also provides an outreach service which supports parent groups in schools and new intake sessions. The service works with agencies such as Flying Start, Communities First, Job Centre Plus, Health Visitors, PACE Project and Play and Leisure to reach parents and carers whose need for help is greatest.
  5. FIS is also funded through the Families First Grant to administer the Disability Index, which is a directory of children and young people in the Vale who have specific impairments and requirements. There are now 391 children and young people registered on the Index and receiving regular information, an increase of 18% since last year and a 420% increase since FIS took over the administration of the Index in 2012.
  6. FIS has increased its use of social media to promote the service and to reach parents and professionals. Facebook and Twitter are used regularly to highlight important campaigns and promote events and activities. It is a very useful, free communication resource.
  7. ValeConnect has been used to send e-bulletins to childcare providers, families of children on the Index and professionals.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. FIS records information and aims to gain feedback from all enquiries. These statistics are from April 2015 - March 2016, based on the availability of information:
  • 1,422 enquiries direct to the service (2% decrease from the previous year);
  • 33,350 page views to the FIS web pages (stats for 10 months);
  • 1,797 online childcare enquiries (stats for 7 months);
  • 390 online family support enquiries (stats for 7 months);
  • 2,956 page views to the 'Children with additional needs' web pages (stats for 10 months);
  • 671 requests for childcare information;
  • 179 direct enquiries for special needs support and the Disability Index;
  • 341 direct enquiries for leisure and holiday activities;
  • 148 direct enquiries for help with childcare costs and financial help.
  1. In terms of outcomes, 52% of those who contacted the FIS were able to find suitable childcare, 21% said their circumstances had changed or they had not started looking yet and 26% were unable to find childcare. 77% of those able to find childcare were also able to take up training, find work or remain in work. For those unable to find childcare, the most important factor was that it was too expensive (4 people).
  2. The type of enquiries varies greatly. It includes: requests for childcare information and advice, holiday activities, becoming a childminder, database updates, help with childcare costs, leisure activities, family support, nursery admission and education. Some examples of the enquiries we receive are set out in Appendix 1.
  3. It is evident that more people are using the service on-line, rather than contacting FIS directly. FIS also gain many enquiries (25%) from undertaking outreach work.

Key Achievements (please see Appendix 2 for more information).

  1. There have been many achievements in the past year.
  • 64% of users said the information had made a difference to them and their families by improving their knowledge, enabling them to access services, ensuring that their child had made friends, improving their family situation, feeling positive about the future and being able to take up employment.
  • 96% of users were satisfied or very satisfied with the service received from FIS (4% didn't respond) and 87% would recommend the service to others (13% didn't respond).
  • 795 new enquirers received information from FIS (68% of all enquiries).
  • 2 more primary schools achieved the level 1 FIS School Certificate of Achievement (18 in total) and 2 more schools have achieved level 2 (4 in total).
  • From feedback gained at focus groups with parents in schools and through Flying Start, we developed new online information for parents.
  • The service produced another successful Summer Holiday Activity Programme, available online, which resulted in over 11,000 web hits.
  • 391 children and young people are now registered on the Disability Index (an 18% increase) and the Vale Disability Index model is being replicated in Cardiff. FIS teams will work together to produce joint promotional materials and a joint Cardiff and Vale Index newsletter.
  • The FIS Family Support Directory has been transferred to the Dewis Cymru website (170 services), to ensure that services improving peoples well-being are accessible in one place, but it is still available also through the Council's website.
  • Social media is used as a key communication tool and the FIS Facebook page now has 828 people following the page (223 new followers in the last year).

Key Actions for the next year:

  1. Key actions for the new year include :
  • Completing the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA) full report;
  • Working with Family Support service providers to encourage them to update their information on the Dewis Cymru website and working with the Dewis Cymru project team to transfer the remaining services from the FIS database to the Dewis Cymru site (including childcare information and leisure activities and services);
  • Working with Ysgol y Deri to promote the Disability Index and help it to gain the FIS School Certificate level 1;
  • Working with health visitors to ensure that new parents are aware of FIS, by attending baby clinics and parent & toddler groups;
  • Continuing to work with Job Centre Plus, PACE project and Gingerbread, to ensure that lone parents are aware of available childcare options;
  • Encouraging partner agencies to work towards the FIS certificate, prioritising Communities First, Flying Start and the FACT Team;
  • Develop parenting web pages to include information on the 'teenage years';
  • Working with Cardiff FIS to produce joint Index newsletters, improving access to information on services for children with disabilities across Cardiff and the Vale and achieving efficiencies for the Vale.
  1. The FIS will assist with the development of a proposal for how FIS and the Families First Advice Line will work with the new Vale of Glamorgan Information, Advice and Assistance service under the Social Services and Well-being Act.
  2. Work with colleagues to develop a screening tool/referral form which complies with the requirements of the new Act and facilitates access to more specialist/intensive services where higher level needs are identified

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Two full-time and one part-time member of staff (0.59fte) deliver the service. Staff are also responsible for producing and promoting social care information internally and externally, through various media. Funding from the Disabilities Strand of the Families First Grant is used to fund a temporary part-time Disability Index Administrator, who is also based in the FIS.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Increasing use of digital methods for providing information can produce environmental benefits.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The FIS meets its obligations under the Childcare Act 2006 to provide information on services promoting the use of the Welsh language by offering parents and carers information on Welsh-medium childcare provision and raising children through the medium of Welsh. All information for the public is available bilingually.
  2. The obligations under the Childcare Act 2006 to provide information on local and national services for disabled children and young people is enhanced by the availability of the Disability Index to parents and carers of disabled children.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. The FIS can refer on to other organisations who offer preventative support, thus preventing children and young people engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. The FIS offers a service to every parent or carer living in the Vale of Glamorgan. Information on Welsh-medium childcare provision and raising children through the medium of Welsh is provided to parents. All information for the public is available bilingually.
  2. The FIS has adopted an Equal Opportunities Policy, one of the requirements of the national FIS Quality Award.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. The Vale FIS contributes to the following corporate / service objectives:
  • Community Strategy 2011-2021 Priority Outcome 5: Children and young people in the Vale are well informed and supported to access a broad range of quality services that enable them to take full advantage of the life opportunities available in their local communities and beyond.
  • Corporate Plan 2013-2017 Outcome: Children and young people are engaged and supported and take full advantage of life opportunities available in their local community and beyond.
  • Social Services Plan 2014-2018 Outcome 1: People in the Vale of Glamorgan are able to request support and receive the right help in a timely manner.
  • Welsh Education Strategic Plan 2014-2017 Outcome 1: More seven-year-old children being taught through the medium of Welsh.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The report is in accordance with the Council's policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No local ward member consultation has been undertaken as this is a Vale-wide service.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Healthy Living and Social Care.

Background Papers

Report to Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, 13th April 2015.

Contact Officer

Suzanne Clifton, Interim Head of Business Management and Innovation

Officers Consulted

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People's Services

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services