The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure all children can access quality early childhood care and education. Its goal is to empower early years providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every child can participate meaningfully in the ECCE Programme.
AIM is a child-centred model, involving seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child and the pre-school service. For many children, the universal supports offered under the model will be sufficient. For others, one particular discrete support may be required to enable participation in the ECCE Programme, such as access to a piece of specialised equipment. For a small number, a suite of different services and supports may be necessary. In other words, the model is designed to be responsive to the needs of each individual child in the context of their pre-school setting. It offers tailored, practical supports based on need and does not require a formal diagnosis of disability.
Universal Supports (Levels 1 – 3 of the Access and Inclusion Model) Universal supports are designed to promote and support an inclusive culture within pre-school settings by means of a variety of educational and capacity-building initiatives. Specifically:
A new Inclusion Charter has been developed for the pre-school sector. This tool supports services in developing their own Inclusion Policy. The Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Charter and Guidelines can be accessedhere.
A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” which commence in 2016.Pre-school settings employing a LINC graduate will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.
A broad multi-annual programme of formal and informal training for pre-school staff in relation to disability and inclusion. Which will be funded by the DCYA and facilitated by local CCC’s.
Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model) A pre-school provider, in partnership with a parent or guardian, may consider that some additional support may be necessary to meet the needs of a particular child, they can apply for one or more of the following targeted supports:
Expert advice, mentoring and support is available from a team of early years specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities. Who are based in the Better Start National Early Years Quality Development Service.
A scheme is available for the provision of specialised equipment, appliances and grants towards minor building alterations which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme.
Therapy services, which are critical to a child’s participation in the ECCE Programme, are available through AIM and will be provided by the HSE.
Where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of a child, pre-school providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, can apply for additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom or to enable the reduction of the staff to child ratio.