A growing number of primary schools are keeping their doors open during the summer holidays.
Funded by the Wales-wide School Holiday Enrichment Programme (Shep), children receive breakfast and lunch and lessons are replaced by sports and activities.
The number of schools offering the programme has risen by 43% this year.
One teacher in Barry said the scheme had become "the heart and soul of what our school is about".
"Our children and our families need us to be there, not just during term time and not just in the traditional way," said Janet Hayward, head teacher of Cadoxton Primary, in Barry.
Like 75 other primary schools around Wales, Mrs Hayward and her learning assistants welcome children back for three weeks during the holidays.
The school is in a ward in Barry where the latest figures estimate 31% are classed as living in child poverty - above the Wales average of 29.3%.
Funding for the project is available to schools where more than 16% of pupils are entitled to free school meals.
But once running, the programme is open to all children in the school, whatever their circumstances.
Almost 2,500 children took part in Shep last year. This month, 3,700 are expected to pass through school gates usually locked for six weeks.
Ms Newman said it had "made such a difference" to Carianne's wellbeing.
"This year things have improved but she still loves going. She learns about healthy eating and it is something to do to break up the long holiday," she said.
"She gets to mix with new friends and they do a daily mile every morning and they can choose to walk or jog. They teach them about cooking and go on trips to the local park.
"They even brought owls in yesterday from a local owl sanctuary. It's absolutely brilliant," she told Claire Summers on BBC Radio Wales.
But the £900,000 spent by the Welsh Government this year is nowhere near enough to reach all the children in need, says the Bevan Foundation think-tank.
Nathan is the Operations Director and one half of Vale Breakfast on Bro Radio. You'll hear him reading local news, hosting at local events and presenting our facebook live videos.