Good start in life can save taxpayers £500,000 per child

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A charity helping parents in North East Wales struggling to bring up babies can help save taxpayers £500,000 each over a child’s lifetime by helping them to stay on the straight and narrow, according to a police boss.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones has backed Home-start, which has bases in Wrexham and Flintshire, with £75,000 over three years as part of his Early Interventions initiative.

The organisation is also working in partnership with Wrexham County Borough Council, and Gwersyllt Primary School.

Mr Jones said: “Home-start do fantastic work helping families with parenting and if they can step in and offer support and advice can save taxpayers many millions of pounds.

“Those first years are so important and getting the right start and helping parents give their child the right start can prevent school attendance problems, substance abuse, unemployment, illness and even early death.

“Without that support to ensure they stay on the right track and out of trouble when they are growing up it can cost society £500,000 per child.

“I like to work with Home-start because they come up with solutions. They deal with hundreds of children and make a difference to so many families.”

Home-Start is a family support charity and has schemes in both Flintshire and Wrexham which work with families with a child from the time of conception to the age of 12 years.

In the past year Home-start has worked with 211 families across Wrexham and Flintshire with their volunteers supporting 468 children, the majority of them under the age of five and their volunteers donated an average of two and a half hours a week to the project.

The cash from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Early Interventions Fund is paying for an Adverse Childhood Experiences Champion, Lucie Nikolic, based in Wrexham and covering Wrexham and Flintshire.

Her role is to co-ordinate the efforts of Home-start’s mainly volunteer team of Family Support Workers who work with families from before the birth to help ensure those adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are avoided.

Home-Start Wrexham Manager Pam Hoyle said: “Many of the parents we support have experienced trauma in their own childhoods and now lack the family support and resources we all need to raise children.

“This makes things really difficult for families and our role is to ‘bridge the gap’ and help reduce the risk of traumatic events or family breakdown.

“Home-Start works with families to get the best out of family life and avoid the things we know cause difficulties for children in their future.

“Home-Start is a preventative family support organisation offering practical and emotional support to tackle the disadvantages faced by many families across Wales.

“We understand that if we are successful in breaking the cycle of exposure to ACEs then we can help break it for generations.

“We want to help them cope on their own because very, very few people want anything but the best for their children.”

Lucie said: “We will use our trusted relationships with families to find out how we can support them to learn about ACEs and their effects.

“We are setting up a network with organisations and practitioners across health, social services, education, local authority and third sectors to share best practice and learning across Wrexham and Flintshire.

“We all have a vested interest in learning more about how to prevent these happening and mitigating their effects so we are excited to be working together to find local solutions and create a network for sharing best practice with each other.

“The volunteers we have are all trained and some of them have come from backgrounds of poor parenting and because we are a charity families find it easier to work with us.”

Arfon Jones, a former Police Inspector, added: “Crime is a symptom, the underlying causes of crime are what have to be looked at and addressed because some people are going before the courts day and day out and nothing is being done to stop it.

“That’s what the Early Intervention Fund is about because if we can act early in the lives of these children at risk then we can prevent this pattern of behaviour and that’s what Home-start aim to do.”

Caption: PCC-1 AND 5 Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Arfon Jones visits Homestart in Wrexham; Pictured Lucie Nikolic, ACE champion and Arfon Jones, PCC . 

PCC-3 and 4: Police and Crime Commissioner for North Wales Arfon Jones visits Homestart in Wrexham; Pictured (from left) Angela Andrews- chair of Wrexham and Flintshire ACE projects, Arfon Jones, PCC , Lucie Nikolic, ACE champion, and Pam Hoyle, Home-Start Wrexham Manager.