The Better Start Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme.  Its goal is to empower service providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can fully participate in the ECCE programme and reap the benefits of quality early years care and education.

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 service provider. 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 pre-school, 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 will offer tailored, practical supports based on need and will not require a formal diagnosis of disability.

What supports are provided under AIM?

AIM provides a suite of universal and targeted supports across 7 levels.

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 early years sector. Service 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 will be delivered by the City and County Childcare Committees.
  • A new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” (LINC), commenced in September 2016. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs will fund up to 900 places per annum on this programme. Graduates from the programme will be able to take on a new leadership role of Inclusion Co-ordinator within their pre-school setting which will attract an increase of €2 per child per week in the rate of ECCE capitation payable to that setting.
  • 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 City and County Childcare Committees, in collaboration with the HSE and other agencies.

Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

The supports at levels 1 to 3, when appropriately developed, have been found internationally to be sufficient to support many children with disabilities. However, where a service provider, in partnership with a parent or guardian, considers that some further 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 50 specialists in early years care and education for children with disabilities. These experts, termed Early Years Specialists (Access and Inclusion), 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 the model and will be provided by the HSE.
  • Finally, where the above supports are not sufficient to meet the needs of a child, service 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.

How do I access AIM supports?

Service providers and parents or guardians will be able to submit applications for AIM supports from June 2016 to allow them to plan ahead for pre-school enrolment in September 2016 and thereafter. It should be noted that applications will remain open throughout the year although, in the case of children with more complex disabilities, parents and providers are encouraged to apply early.

Universal Supports (Levels 1 – 3 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

Early Years Practitioners can apply for the new higher education programme, “Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years” or LINC, at www.lincprogramme.ie.
National training programmes in relation to the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Guidelines, as well as in relation to disability and inclusion more generally, will be advertised on this website and on the websites of all City and County Childcare Committees. Service providers and practitioners will be able to apply for places on these training programmes via their local City or County Childcare Committee.

Targeted Supports (Levels 4 – 7 of the Access and Inclusion Model)

Advice and support from the Early Years Specialist Service (Access and Inclusion) can be accessed by phone (01 511 7222), e-mail (onlinesupport@pobal.ie) or via the AIM online application form at www.pobal.ie.

This form only needs to be completed once to access supports across levels 4, 5, 6 or 7. To apply for specialised equipment, appliances or a grant towards minor alterations, service providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the relevant part of the aforementioned online application form on PIP.

To apply for therapy services or additional capitation to fund extra support in the classroom, service providers, in partnership with parents or guardians, should complete the online application form on PIP, including the Access and Inclusion Profile section of the form. It is estimated that only 1 to 1.5% of children in ECCE will require, and therefore be eligible for, the Level 7 additional capitation.

Finally, while the Access and Inclusion Model is being introduced from June 2016, full implementation will take time as capacity is built across the sector.

How can I find out more information?

For more detailed information on AIM, please refer to these dedicated webpages For Parents,  For Service Providers, Frequently Asked Questions and Key Documents webpage.

***For Information on AIM Level 1 – Inclusion Co-ordinator Increased ECCE Capitation Frequently Asked Questions please click here: aim-level-1-inclusion-co-ordinator-faq-re-increased-ecce-capitation

AIM Level 5 – New Applications

Children eligible for the 2019/2020 ECCE programme

Where AIM Level 5 equipment and/or alterations are required, the preschool provider, in conjunction with the parent(s) can make an application for AIM Level 5 support via the AIM tab on the PIP Portal.

Once a child is eligible for ECCE an AIM Level 5 application can be made at any time throughout the pre-school year. However we encourage applications to be submitted early to ensure support is in place as soon as possible.

Existing Applications

If a child in receipt of AIM Level 5 equipment is moving to another pre-school in September 2019, a new AIM application must be submitted by the new pre-school provider in conjunction with the parent(s).

If a child in receipt of AIM Level 5 equipment is transitioning to school in September 2019, transfer of ownership documents will be issued in due course.

Please contact onlinesupport@pobal.ie  if you require any support in the submission of your application.

AIM application process for September 2019 pre-school year

AIM Level 7
For children who are currently receiving AIM supports and are eligible to avail of a 2nd year of the ECCE programme from September 2019
If the child is eligible and is returning to the same pre-school setting for a second year and circumstances have not changed, services in receipt of AIM Level 7 supports must submit a 2nd year extension request for all eligible children. This request can be submitted via the AIM tab on the PIP Portal from Wednesday 1st May.

If the child who is currently availing of AIM supports is moving to another pre-school in September 2019, a new AIM application has to be made by the new pre-school provider in conjunction with the parent(s).

New AIM applications:
For children eligible for the ECCE programme for the first time from September 2019 where AIM supports are required, the pre-school provider, in conjunction with the parent(s) should make an application for AIM by completing an Access and Inclusion Profile.
To apply for a child’s 1st year AIM Level 7 support a service request must be included in the submission of a Level 4: AIM Application. This application form can be accessed via the AIM tab on the PIP Portal and will be available from Wednesday 1st May.
Please contact onlinesupport@pobal.ie if you require any support in the submission of your application.

Apply early!
Applications should be made as early as possible to ensure that the relevant supports are in place when required.

Update: AIM Informed Consent

With effect from the 31st of May 2019 the previous AIM consent form from programme call 2018/19 will no longer be accepted.  Please remove any previous AIM consent forms you may hold on your desktop.

Please ensure that you fill out the correct consent form (see link below).

http://aim.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/AIM-Informed-Consent.pdf

In order to apply for AIM Level 4, 5, or 7, consent from the Parent/Guardian is required to be submitted with the child’s application. This will enable the Early Years Specialist and other professionals to support a child’s inclusion in the pre-school for the duration of his or her ECCE registration and to plan for his or her transition to primary school.

The information required on the AIM informed consent form includes;

  • The child’s name
  • The Service DCYA reference number
  • The setting name
  • Signatures of the Parent’s/Guardian of the child.

The form should then be uploaded onto PIP and submitted with the application.  This form is a legal document and should be completed in full and all signatures need to be dated.

 

Applications cannot be processed without been fully completed and will be returned.

 

 

 

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