Access and Inclusion Model for Pre-school Providers
The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme in mainstream pre-school settings. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every child can meaningfully participate in the ECCE Programme alongside their peers and can reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.
AIM is a child centred model of supports, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the individual child and the pre-school setting. It will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability.
Levels 1- 3 of the model involve a suite of universal supports designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings using a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives for pre-school providers and practitioners. International evidence suggests that these supports, when appropriately developed, are sufficient to support many children with disabilities.
Where a pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent, considers that some further additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more targeted supports under levels 4 – 7 of the model. These supports could take the form of expert early childhood care and educational advice and mentoring (level 4), specialised equipment, appliances and minor alterations (level 5), therapeutic supports (level 6) and additional capitation to fund extra assistance in the ECCE pre-school room (level 7).
More information on both universal and targeted supports is provided below.
Finally, the model applies to all mainstream pre-school settings which are funded through the ECCE programme. In addition to mainstream settings, pre-school services are also offered in special pre-schools and early intervention classes which cater exclusively for children with disabilities. While the underlying vision of AIM is to cater for as many children as possible in mainstream settings, it is recognised that a small number of children will continue to need specialised services.
Universal Supports under AIM
A range of universal supports are provided under levels 1 – 3.
A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the early years sector. The purpose of the Charter is to demonstrate the sector’s commitment to inclusion. Pre-school providers are invited to sign-up to this Charter by producing and publishing their own Inclusion Policy. To support this process, updated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines for Early Childhood Care and Education have been produced and a national training programme on the Inclusion Charter and the Guidelines is being delivered by the City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs). The Charter and Guidelines can be accessed here and details of the training programme will also be advertised on this website and on the websites of all City and County Childcare Committees.
A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in Early Years” or LINC, commenced in September 2016. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs fund up to 900 places per annum on this programme. Pre-school settings employing a LINC graduate (who has agreed to take on the role and responsibilities of the Inclusion Co-ordinator) will receive an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that pre-school setting. More information in relation to the role of the Inclusion Co-ordinator can be found in the FAQ and Key Documents sections of this website. For more detailed information in relation to the LINC programme, please visit www.lincprogramme.ie. Finally, a broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion will be funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and will be delivered by the Early Years Specialists in collaboration with City and County Childcare Committee’s, the HSE and other agencies. For details of this training programme see the News section on this website and on your local City or County Childcare Committees website.
The vision is that, as a result of the above initiatives, an inclusive culture will be fostered across the early years sector with benefits for all children and their families.
Getting Started and Accessing Supports
Where you have agreed to enrol a child in your pre-school and consider that you will need additional support to meet the needs of the child in an inclusive way, you can, in partnership with the parent, apply for supports under AIM. Applications are made via the Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP) on the Pobal website.
The AIM application process, in advance of each new pre-school year, will open in May in order to enable the relevant supports to be put in place prior to the child commencing on the ECCE programme in the September. Please note that for some very specialised equipment more time is required.
A telephone support line is also available to you at the following contact (01) 511 7222 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
Applications can only be made with the full consent of the parent or guardian or carer. A copy of the parental consent form can be viewed here. This form should be printed and signed by the parent or guardian or carer and should then be uploaded and submitted with the completed online application. In providing consent for an application to be made, the parent is also providing consent for information on the application to be shared with relevant professionals involved in processing the application and providing supports under AIM (eg. Early Years Specialist, HSE occupational therapist, Pobal officials).
Where an application for supports has been made, Pobal will process the application and will inform both the parent and the pre-school provider of the decision reached. Where a pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent, is unhappy with the decision reached by Pobal, they can seek a review. More detail in relation to the process of decision making is available at www.pobal.ie.
The full policy underpinning AIM can be accessed by clicking the button below.