Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Questions (438)

Niamh Smyth


438. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if an application by a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41124/19]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services are privately run or are operated by community/not for profit organisations. My Department does not operate or own childcare services but, through a funding agreement, provides a range of supports, such as capitation payments and subsidies to support children, parents and the sector. Any person wishing to establish an early learning and care service, once registered with Tusla, can enter into an agreement / contract with my Department to run various Department programmes.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Access and Inclusion Model (AIM) is a programme of supports designed to enable children with a disability to access and meaningfully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education programme. It was introduced in June 2016 and is administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department. AIM is a child-centred model, involving 7 levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, based on the needs of the child in the context of the preschool setting they are attending.

I am pleased to say that the Government made a commitment in First 5 to consider enhancements to, or extension of, AIM to other groups of children. Such an extension might involve younger children (such as under-3s), or children attending school-age childcare services, or it might involve children with additional needs other than a disability. However, all decisions on the extension or reform of AIM will be informed by the findings of a three year evaluation of AIM that should be commenced in the coming months, and careful consideration of the needs of various groups of children, services currently available, as well of course as securing of the necessary resources.

It should also be noted that Early Intervention services for children with disabilities generally fall under the remit of Department of Health. I would advise anyone that wishes to set up or operate an Early Intervention service to contact the Department of Health in the first instance. Alternatively, the Department of Education's Special Education Unit may be of assistance.