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.
AIM provides a suite of universal and targeted supports across 7 levels.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Advice and support from the Early Years Specialist Service (Access and Inclusion) can be accessed by phone (01 511 7222), e-mail (email@example.com) 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.
If you are working in a childcare service in Laois and would like to participate in our Equality and Diversity Guidelines Training please fill out the booking form below and send it back to Sinead at firstname.lastname@example.org or post back to Laois County Childcare Committee, 6 Lismard Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois
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