Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (1667)

Anne Rabbitte


1667. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the estimated cost of extending the AIM scheme to support school aged children attending full day care. [35102/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), which was launched in June 2016, is a model of supports designed to ensure that children with disabilities can access the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) preschool programme. Its goal is to empower pre-school providers to deliver an inclusive pre-school experience, ensuring that every eligible child can meaningfully 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 in the context of the pre-school setting they are attending. AIM is administered by Pobal on behalf of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

AIM supports are currently provided based on the needs of the child and the preschool setting, and a clinical assessment is not required. AIM supports that are provided are deemed essential to enable the child’s meaningful participation in their ECCE Programme.

As AIM is currently designed to support children to access the ECCE programme, children availing of AIM must comply with the age requirement of this programme, which is 2 years and 8 months to 5 years, and must not yet be attending school.

Estimating the cost of extending the AIM scheme to support school-aged children is not possible at this point in time, given the complexity of the task and the lack of data on important variables such as the number of children attending school-age childcare services who would require AIM supports and the proportion of school-age childcare settings in which additional support would be required. Furthermore, it has not yet been determined how the type of supports required for school-age children might differ from the type of supports required for pre-school children.

Nevertheless, the Government has committed in First 5 to consider enhancements to and/or extension of AIM, which might include extending AIM to school-age children, or to children with additional needs other than a disability. In the coming months my Department will initiate the end-of-year-three evaluation of AIM, which will provide important data to inform consideration of future extensions of AIM.