The lead administration for the Early Years work sector is the Welsh Government.
The early years are fundamental to a child’s life chances. During a child’s early years their physical, cognitive and social and emotional development is most susceptible to influence, both positive and negative. At the eleventh summit in September 2008, the Council adopted Early Years policy as a work sector with the Welsh Government as the lead administration.
Early Years was a featured agenda item at the Cardiff summit in November 2012 and again in November 2016. In 2016 Ministers discussed a paper Early Years - Investing for the Future.
This area of work brings together officials from each Member Administration who are responsible for national, island and regional policy on early years. The work sector encompasses, amongst other things, early years education, childcare, health and support for parents. There are currently four areas of focus within the work sector:
• The early years Workforce - including issues such as leadership, attracting high-quality new entrants, and raising skills and standards in the existing workforce;
• Supporting Families in the early years - to include multi-agency support for families, early intervention and prevention programmes;
• Parenting in the early years - to include support/advice to parents on positive approaches to raising children, the provision of information/advice for prosepctive parents and parents/carers of children and young people etc; and
• Quality Assurance and Assessment of Developmental Progress.
The work sector focuses on sharing good practice from each jurisdiction. The work sector has looked at the collection and interpretation of data to identify issues of concern and areas of good practice to inform policy making and raising standards.
The work sector has facilitated the development of bi-lateral relationships between jurisdictions. In 2015 the work sector attended the Early Years Collaborative in Glasgow, a regular learning session involving several hundred early years professionals from every part of Scotland and organised by the Scottish Government working with NHS Scotland and COSLA.