Agenda Item No. 9


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Healthy Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee: 12th June 2017


Report of the Director of Social Services


The Vale Family Information Service - Annual Update


Purpose of the Report

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


  1. Members of the health Living and Social Care Scrutiny Committee note the work of the Family Information Service.
  2. Members note the potential impact of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 upon the Family Information Service.
  3. Scrutiny receives an annual update on the Family Information Service.

Reason for the Recommendations

1, 2 and 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 and support services for children, their families and their carers.
  2. The Vale FIS has a website containing information for parents (please click on the hyperlink), helping them support their child through their life. For example information on parenting groups, financial help, starting nursery and school, play and leisure, bullying, relationships etc. FIS also provide information to childcare providers on training, grants and events etc.
  3. The FIS maintains a database of over 1,000 services. Approximately 180 family support services have been migrated to the Dewis Cymru website. Dewis Cymru has been implemented in Cardiff and the Vale as the mechanism to search for information on well-being services and support. FIS has played a key part in ensuring that services supporting families have been made available on the Dewis website and FIS remains responsible for ensuring that this information is kept up to date. The Information Officer for FIS is also the Dewis Cymru Project Officer for the Vale Council which helps enable this change.
  4. Families and professionals can contact the service directly and the information is also available online via a childcare search facility and the Dewis Cymru website. Information is updated at least annually and 6 monthly on the Dewis Cymru website.
  5. FIS also provide 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.
  6. FIS is also funded through the Families First Grant to administer The Index which is a directory of children and young people in the Vale who have specific impairments and requirements (please click on the hyperlink). There are now 506 children and young people registered on the Index and receiving regular information, an increase of 29% since last year. The Index has now been mirrored in Cardiff, resulting in a joint Index newsletter for Cardiff and the Vale and the Index Officer works across both authorities. This has enabled us to share costs across the Region by jointly printing materials and publishing of the newsletter and supporting better information exchange.
  7. 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 communication resource.
  8. ValeConnect has been used to send e-bulletins to childcare providers, families of children on the Index and professionals.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Outreach Officer post has been vacant since September 2016, hence a limited amount of outreach and promotion has taken place, resulting in fewer enquiries. We have advertised on three occasions and have unfortunately been unable to appoint. However, the current recruitment exercise has shortlisted a number of applicants and interviews are taking place in May, 2017. A verbal update will be reported at the Committee meeting on the progress of this appointment.
  2. FIS records information and aims to gain feedback from all enquiries. These statistics are from April 2016 - March 2017.
  • 1,100 enquiries direct to the service (23% decrease from the previous year due to an increase in online enquiries and the reduction in outreach and marketing);
  • 3,677 online childcare enquiries (19% increase, although this is based on estimates as stats were only available for 7 months last year due to technical difficulties experienced by the Corporate Communications Team);
  • 41,350 page views to the FIS web pages (3% increase from last year) and 14,946 visits;
  • 3,865 page views to the 'Children with additional needs' web pages (31% increase from previous year) and 1,255 sessions;
  • 463 requests for childcare information (31% decrease which may be related to the increase in online childcare enquiries);
  • 89 direct enquiries for special needs support and the Index;
  • 745 people contacting FIS for health, well-being and leisure information;
  • 114 direct enquiries for help with childcare costs and financial help;
  • 40 people referred to the Dewis website, 30 people referred to the Families First Advice Line (FFAL), 32 people referred to Flying Start, 16 people referred to Communities First.
  • Summary of enquiries and web hits over the last 3 years




Total direct enquiries




Total online childcare searches




Total Contacts




Total web page views




  • *Estimated as 2 months data was not supplied
  • **Estimated as 4 months data wasn't supplied
  1. In terms of outcomes, we contact every enquirer to try and gain feedback from them. 87% would recommend our service and 80% said the information was good or very good. For enquiries specifically for children with disabilities, 100% of those who responded said the information they received helped them and 95% said that it had made a positive difference to their family. See Appendix 1 for some comments.
  2. The type of enquiries we received vary greatly and includes: requests for childcare information and advice, holiday activities, becoming a child-minder, 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 from providing outreach, which accounted for 35% of all enquiries. The Outreach Officer position has been vacant since September 2016.
  4. Two full-time and one part-time post are provided to deliver the service (2.59 FTE). One full-time post is currently vacant. Staff are also responsible for producing and promoting social care information internally and externally, through various media. Funding from the Families First Grant Disabilities Strand is used to fund an additional temporary part-time Disability Index Administrator (0.59 FTE), who is also based in the Family Information Service.

Key Achievements

  1. There have been many achievements in the past year.
  • 115 new children registered on the Index of Children with Disabilities or Additional Needs.
  • A joint regional Cardiff and Vale Index newsletter has been developed and the Vale Index model has been replicated in Cardiff. The Index Officer works across both authorities, which is achieved by holding two separate part time contracts currently although future consideration should be given to having a joint post across Local Authorities.
  • Joint Cardiff and Vale Index promotional materials have been produced.
  • 684 new enquirers accessed information from FIS (73% of all enquiries).
  • Joint working and promotion carried out with the Families First Advice Line (FFAL) to GPs, health visitors, front line staff and in Llandough Children's Centre.
  • Ysgol Y Deri has achieved Level 1 of the FIS School Certificate of Achievement (one of 19 in total) and 7 more schools (including 2 comprehensive schools) have achieved level 2 (11 in total).
  • The service produced another successful Summer Holiday Activity Programme, available online, which resulted in over 11,000 web hits.
  • The FIS Team have worked regionally with Cardiff FIS to transfer their Family Support Directories to Dewis Cymru. They are the first FIS's in Wales to do this and are now supporting other FISs to migrate their information.
  • Social media is used as a key communication tool and the FIS Facebook page now has 1,204 people following the page (376 new followers in the last year). A particular post on a 'relaxed performance of Peter Pan' reached 6,100 people and resulted in 386 clicks. A post promoting the new Tax Free Childcare Scheme and encouraging parents to register reached 3,428 people, resulting in 129 link clicks.
  • FIS Team play a key role in the production of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA) 2016-17.

Key Actions for the next year:

  1. Key actions for the new year include :
  • Complete the transfer of the Children and Young People's Activities Directory to the Dewis Cymru website and encourage providers to update their information;
  • Work with the Local Data Unit and other FIS in Wales to support them to build a standalone national FIS database;
  • Recruit an Outreach and information Officer;
  • Create an online Index registration form;
  • Work with health visitors and parent groups to ensure that new parents are aware of FIS, by attending baby clinics and parent and toddler groups;
  • Work with schools to increase Index registrations;
  • Continuing to work with Job Centre Plus and PACE project to ensure that lone parents are aware of available childcare options;
  • Pilot the FIS Certificate with partner agencies, prioritising a childcare setting, Flying Start and the Families First Advice Line;
  • Work 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;
  • Attend key events to promote FIS/DIS and Dewis Cymru;
  • Work with the Families First Advice Line to ensure parents and carers are accessing information and advice and all support services are available on Dewis Cymru.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Family Information Service is funded from RSG as a legacy from Welsh Government Cymorth Grant which transferred to RSG in 2008.
  2. Additional funding to support the Disability Index is provided under a Service Level Agreement funded from Families First.
  3. Inherent in the requirements to deliver a Family Information Service is the provision of information to support parents and carers who wish to enter or maintain employment and to support the development of the local childcare workforce.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. Increasing use of digital methods for providing information can produce environmental benefits through a reduction in printed media.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Family Information service enables the Council to fulfil its responsibilities under the Child Care Act 2006, Section 27, regarding the provision of prescribed information to parents and prospective parents, on childcare and other services or facilities.
  2. It also provides an integral part of the Information Advice and Assistance (IAA) service, as required by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act (2014).

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 2016-20 Well-being Outcome 4: An Active and Healthy Vale Objective 7: Encouraging and promoting active and healthy lifestyles. Objective 8: Safeguarding those who are vulnerable and promoting independent living.
  • 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.

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

Contact Officer

Suzanne Clifton, Head of Resource Management and Safeguarding

Officers Consulted

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

Responsible Officer

Lance Carver, Director of Social Services