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NEWS: Launch of manifesto in Wales/Lansiad maniffesto yng Nghymru

Darllenwch hyn yn Gymraeg yma.

A group of leading Welsh children’s charities, including PACEY Cymru, is calling on all political parties to put the needs of babies and the youngest children at the centre of their policies for the next Senedd.

The calls come in response to a growing body of evidence pointing to the damaging impact of lockdown on babies and young children. Recent research has indicated increased concerns amongst new parents about their mental health, including increased anxiety and ability to cope – and that families already facing disadvantage have been worst affected.

In addition, research points to ‘hidden harms’ affecting children aged 0-2 in particular, including reduced access to services, health and developmental risks associated with increased time indoors and restricted social interaction, and increased likelihoods of exposure to traumatic experiences and material deprivation.

The call comes from the Early Years Action Group, convened by Children in Wales and comprising BookTrust Cymru, Early Years Wales, Home Start Cymru, Mudiad Meithrin, NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Play Wales, PACEY Cymru and Save the Children.  The group was formed in 2020 to bring together third sector organisations who have a focus on early years, and to establish a collective voice to motivate and activate positive change for the youngest children.

Anna Westall, Policy Officer at Children in Wales, says: ‘We have known for some time just how important the first 1,000 days are for the rest of a person’s life. This period has a long-lasting impact on children’s intellectual, emotional and social development, affecting educational outcomes, future relationships and opportunities and longer-term physical and mental health. Of course, rich and positive experiences also create immediate benefits for children, especially for their wellbeing. Much attention has been given to the experiences of school-age children during Covid. But we cannot afford to overlook the needs of our youngest children if we are to avoid lengthening the time it takes for us to deal with the impact of the pandemic.’

The call asks political parties to commit to putting the needs of babies at the heart of decision-making, and to back this up with funding, increased coordination across services and Cabinet-level oversight.

The group is also calling for increased support for those who care for and work with children, from parents and carers to early years practitioners and other professionals, as well as support to increase wider public awareness of why the first 1,000 days are so important.

Dr. Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Senior Policy Researcher at NSPCC Cymru/Wales, says: ‘Babies born during the pandemic have been reliant on care from parents that are more likely to be experiencing heightened stress, social isolation and mental health problems. But many new parents are not receiving the mental health support they need because there are gaps in these vital services in Wales. Urgent action is needed to help families recover by ensuring that perinatal mental health support is available for every family no matter where they live. Without this there is a real concern that the pandemic will have a detrimental impact on the mental health and wellbeing of parents and babies that is severe and long-lasting.’

The group also emphasises the importance of investing in supporting children at home, as well as in schools and settings, and to learn from the experiences of Covid – both positive and negative.

View A Manifesto for the Senedd Elections 2021: Early Years Action Group

Mae grŵp o brif elusennau plant Cymru, gan gynnwys PACEY Cymru, yn galw ar i bob plaid wleidyddol roi anghenion babis a phlant lleiaf ynghanol eu polisïau ar gyfer y Senedd nesaf.

Daw’r galwadau mewn ymateb i gorff cynyddol o dystiolaeth sy’n dangos gymaint o effaith niweidiol mae’r cyfnod clo yn ei gael ar fabis a phlant bach. Dangosodd ymchwil diweddar fod mwy o ofid ymysg rhieni newydd am eu hiechyd meddwl, gan gynnwys cynnydd mewn gorbryder a lleihad yn y gallu i ymdopi – ac mai teuluoedd sydd eisoes dan anfantais sydd wedi’u heffeithio waethaf.

Yn ogystal, mae ymchwil yn cyfeirio at ‘niwed cudd’ sy’n effeithio ar blant rhwng 0-2 oed yn arbennig, gan gynnwys llai o gyfle i ddefnyddio gwasanaethau, peryglon iechyd a datblygiad sy’n gysylltiedig â threulio mwy o amser dan do a chyfyngu ar ymwneud cymdeithasol, a chynnydd yn y tebygolrwydd o fod yn agored i brofiadau trawmatig ac amddifadedd materol.

Daw’r alwad gan y Grŵp Gweithredu Blynyddoedd Cynnar, a gynullwyd gan Plant yng Nghymru ac sy’n cynnwys BookTrust Cymru, Blynyddoedd Cynnar Cymru, Home Start Cymru, Mudiad Meithrin, NSPCC Cymru/Wales, Chwarae Cymru, PACEY Cymru ac Achub y Plant. Ffurfiwyd y grŵp yn 2020 i ddwyn ynghyd sefydliadau Trydydd Sector sy’n canolbwyntio ar y Blynyddoedd Cynnar, ac i sefydlu llais unedig i symbylu a gweithredu newid cadarnhaol ar gyfer y plant lleiaf.

Yn ôl Anna Westall, Swyddog Polisi gyda Plant yng Nghymru: “Rydyn ni wedi gwybod ers cryn amser mor bwysig yw’r 1,000 o ddyddiau cyntaf ar gyfer gweddill bywyd rhywun. Mae’r cyfnod hwn yn cael effaith hirdymor ar ddatblygiad deallusol, emosiynol a chymdeithasol plant, gan effeithio canlyniadau addysgol, perthynas a chyfle yn y dyfodol ac iechyd corfforol a meddyliol mwy hirdymor. Wrth gwrs, mae profiadau cyfoethog a chadarnhaol hefyd yn creu manteision ar unwaith i blant, yn enwedig i’w llesiant. Rhoddwyd llawer o sylw i brofiadau plant oedran ysgol yn ystod Covid. Ond allwn ni ddim â fforddio i esgeuluso anghenion ein plant lleiaf os ydyn ni’n mynd i osgoi ymestyn faint o amser fydd hi’n ei gymryd i ni ddelio ag effaith y pandemig.”

Mae’r alwad yn gofyn ar i bleidiau gwleidyddol ymrwymo i roi anghenion babis wrth wraidd y broses o wneud penderfyniadau, ac i gefnogi hyn gyda chyllid, mwy o gydlyniant ar draws gwasanaethau a throsolwg ar lefel Cabinet.

Mae’r grŵp hefyd yn galw am roi mwy o gymorth i bobl sy’n gofalu am blant ac sy’n gweithio gyda nhw, boed fel rhieni a gofalwyr neu ymarferwyr blynyddoedd cynnar a gweithwyr proffesiynol eraill, yn ogystal â chynyddu ymwybyddiaeth gyhoeddus ehangach o’r hyn sy’n gwneud y 1,000 diwrnod cyntaf mor bwysig.

Meddai   Dr. Sarah Witcombe-Hayes, Uwch Ymchwilydd Polisi yn NSPCC Cymru/Wales: ‘Mae babis gafodd eu geni yn ystod y pandemig wedi bod yn ddibynnol ar ofal oddi wrth rieni sy’n fwy tebygol o fod yn profi mwy o straen, bod yn gymdeithasol ynysig a phroblemau iechyd meddwl. Ond mae llawer o rieni newydd nad ydyn nhw’n derbyn y gefnogaeth sydd ei angen arnynt ar gyfer eu hiechyd meddwl am fod bylchau yn y gwasanaethau hanfodol hyn yng Nghymru. Mae angen gweithredu ar frys i helpu teuluoedd i adfer drwy sicrhau fod cefnogaeth iechyd meddwl ôl-enedigol ar gael i bob teulu waeth ble maen nhw’n byw. Heb hyn, mae gwir ofid y bydd y pandemig yn cael effaith niweidiol ar iechyd meddwl a llesiant rhieni a babis sy’n ddifrifol ac yn mynd i bara am amser maith.’

Mae’r grŵp hefyd yn pwysleisio pwysigrwydd buddsoddi mewn cefnogi plant yn y cartref, yn ogystal ag mewn ysgolion a lleoliadau, ac i ddysgu oddi wrth brofiadau Covid – rhai cadarnhaol a negyddol.

Gweld Maniffesto ar gyfer Etholiadau’r Senedd 2021: Grŵp Gweithredu’r Blynyddoedd Cynnar