CARMARTHENSHIRE parents are being asked to help give special recognition to the hard working professionals across Wales whose skill and dedication is providing thousands of youngsters with a flying start in life.

A new award entitled ‘Stars in their Lives’ aims to highlight the amazing contribution made to youngsters in their crucial early years by staff such as health visitors, midwives, parenting and learning support specialists, and other childcare and development workers.

In Carmarthenshire alone, over the past year, 1,112 children have taken part in a programme named Flying Start, which aids disadvantaged families who are facing the biggest challenges in raising their children.

Parents, carers and grandparents who use this programme are being invited to nominate a Flying Start worker they believe has made an outstanding contribution to their child's development.

Flying Start is one of the Welsh Government’s key programmes for tackling poverty and it aims to make a decisive difference to the lives of children under four in the most disadvantaged communities by offering parents free quality childcare for 2-3 year olds, parenting support, an enhanced health visitor service and help for early language development.

Over 2,000 highly-trained staff across Wales are involved in delivering these critical services. The new award coincides with a major expansion of Flying Start that will see 36,000 children benefitting from the programme by 2016.

Recent research with Flying Start parents concluded that for some families experiencing the Flying Start programme has been ‘life-changing’.

Nia Mcintosh, Carmarthenshire’s Flying Start Coordinator said: “Those involved in supporting children and families are often the unsung heroes and heroines in children’s lives. They lay the foundations for youngsters to thrive by helping parents and guardians to ensure their health, confidence and ability to learn. The value of their contribution carries on for years, as toddlers grow into happy, self-assured children, teenagers and eventually adults."

Nominations forms for the Stars in Their Lives awards are available from local Flying Start centres or via the Family Information Service, or can be made online at

The closing date for nominations is August 31 and awards will be presented at the Flying Start conference in the autumn by the Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething.