The AIM End of Year One Review is now available to read on the AIM website. This independent review was commissioned by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and undertaken by consultants RSM and researchers in Trinity Haus (Trinity College Dublin). The process included a survey of parents and providers, case study visits and interviews with stakeholders.
When AIM was introduced in 2016, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs committed to providing national programme offering a consistent and uniform approach to supporting children with additional needs within the ECCE programme. Today there is widespread recognition of the extremely positive experiences of collaboration and cooperation across Government departments, agencies/organisations and the early learning and care sector. Significant numbers of children with disabilities who might not otherwise have been able to access the ECCE free preschool programme have been helped to do so.
Review findings were broadly very positive, with high levels of satisfaction among both service providers and parents across many aspects of AIM. Notably AIM has had a positive impact on the attendance of children with disabilities – reported by 96% of respondents working in settings and by 88% of parent/guardian respondents. Early impacts also indicate that, of those who had accessed supports provided by Better Start Early Years Specialists, 85% of preschool staff respondents and 72% of parent/guardian respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with all aspects of the support provided.
It is clear from the review that we now have a model of inclusion which is seen as child-centred, accessible and equitable.The review has also allowed DCYA to identify some areas for improvement and further development, notably in regard to communication. This feedback is informing the development of a Communications Strategy for AIM. Next steps also include an AIM End of Year Three Evaluation – to be commissioned over coming months – meanwhile, the AIM End of Year One Review can be accessed here.