AIM aspires to help all children, regardless of ability, to access quality early learning and care and create a more inclusive culture in pre-schools. Children and pre-school staff benefit from AIM through universal supports for the sector, and targeted supports for individual children.
AIM supports are provided through the ECCE programme. The main supports are grouped into universal or targeted supports. Universal supports are designed to create a more inclusive culture in Early Learning and Care settings, through training courses and qualifications for staff. Where universal supports are not enough to meet the needs of an individual child, targeted supports are available to ensure the child can meaningfully participate in pre-school. In addition to targeted and universal supports, AIM also provides universal design guidelines for Early Learning and Care settings and AIM Inclusive Play resources.
AIM universal supports benefit the whole pre-school environment through empowering pre-school providers to create a more inclusive culture in their settings. This is achieved through; Continuous Professional Development (CPD), an inclusion charter and guidelines for pre-schools and a Level 6 qualification in Inclusion (LINC).
AIM targeted supports cater to a wide range of abilities and are focused on the needs of the child and do not need a diagnosis of disability.
These might take the form of specialist advice and support, specialist equipment or appliances, minor building alterations, therapeutic intervention or, in a small number of cases, extra assistance in the pre-school room.
While AIM does not fund Special Needs Assistants (SNAs), in some cases funding may be provided either to reduce the child-to-adult ratio in the pre-school room or to fund an extra staff member as a shared resource with other children in the ECCE setting.
Applying for AIM targeted supports is a simple process, regardless of the type of support being applied for the application process is largely the same.
For help with finding a pre-school, or applying to AIM for targeted supports you can contact the Better Start Early Years Specialist Service at EYPC@pobal.ie or your local CCC, which can be found at myccc.ie.
Please note that, a formal diagnosis of disability is not required to receive AIM targeted supports. View the full AIM rules in our AIM Policy Rules section for more information.
An application can be made for AIM targeted supports if, the child and pre-school is registered within the ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) programme.
Where it is considered that your child needs additional support, applications for targeted supports are made by the pre-school provider in collaboration with the parent. Most pre-school providers should be familiar with the AIM application process and be able to guide parents through the application. Your pre-school provider can apply, in partnership with you, for targeted supports under AIM. When starting the application process, it is important to carefully read the application form and ensure that both parent and provider consent to the application for AIM supports. You should consider the following: what supports are required? is the child eligible for AIM support? is the child moving pre-school? or currently in receipt of AIM supports?
*In certain cases, children not part of the ECCE programme can avail of targeted supports.
Applications for targeted supports should be made in May so they are in place for the start of the pre-school year, however, they can be applied for year-round.
If a child in receipt of targeted supports moves to another pre-school, a new AIM application must be submitted by the new pre-school provider with the child’s parents.
If children in a service are eligible to avail of level 7 support for a second year, are returning to the same pre-school for a second year, and their circumstances have not changed, the setting must submit a second year extension request for all eligible children. This request can be submitted via the AIM tab on the Early Years Hive Platform.
AIM Inclusive Play is the latest addition of AIM Supports which consists set of sensory and educational play resources to support inclusive practice within Early Learning and Care settings.
These resources included equipment, toys and materials to support the development of coordination and audio, visual and tactile skills among all children, and in particular, children with a disability.
AIM Inclusive Play reinforces an important message – that children’s play is a vital ingredient of childhood, essential for both growth and learning and an integral element of high quality pre-school provision.
Follow the link to access videos on how to use the resources: https://aim.gov.ie/resources/
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